When I was in Saint-Petersburg in 2017, I spent a couple of hours at the underground base/gym/Ukrainian war trophy room of the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) when I visited SPB in 2017 – the “white supremacist” group that has just been designated as a White Supremacist terrorist organization by the US State Department. Three individuals were also separately designated as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists”: Stanislav Vorobyev, Denis Gariev, and Nikolayevich Trushchalov. I would advise them to keep well away from the US and its colonies for the foreseeable future.
Although I am honored to have directly consorted with America’s first “white supremacist” global terrorists, the banal reality is that they were and are nothing of the sort. As I wrote back then:
Its nationalism is explicitly based on religion, not ethnicity – you don’t have to be an ethnic Russian to join, but you do have to be an Orthodox Christian. However, they are also considerably more hardcore than the others, having been directly involved in the events in Donbass through their Imperial Legion battalion.
Even so, to add to the irony, their website rusimperia.info is nonetheless blocked by Russian censorship body Roskomnadzor on the territory of the Russian Federation – while remaining accessible in the US, which has just branded them terrorists. If you’re not afraid of getting on the FBI watchlists, you can confirm what I said above by reading their Manifesto, which centers around “God, Tsar, Nation” (in that order). Or check them out celebrating being so “honored” on their Vkontakte page.
Nor are they a particularly large or influential organization. They have perhaps a few hundred “regulars” – enough to outfit a small battalion in the Donbass in 2014-15, but nothing on the scale of, say, Azov in the Ukraine, which functions as an official paramilitary force, hews to an explicitly white nationalist ideology, and does far more extensive outreach and training with European and American white nationalists.
Their lack of clout is not surprising, as the fact that their website is blocked within Russia rather suggests that the Kremlin isn’t all that enamored of them. And it’s not difficult to see why. Their Manifesto claims that Russians do not have a “national state”, and have been divided by “thieving regimes” that are “living out their last days” on the body of the true, historical Russia as it was before February 1917. Since RIM are barely any bigger fans of the Russian Federation than of the UkSSR, it is not surprising that relations between the Kremlin and RIM cannot be anything more than an alliance of convenience.
However, the American terrorist designation isn’t on account of RIM’s adventures in the Ukraine, but on its supposed involvement with “radicalizing” a couple of Swedish far rightists:
RIM is a terrorist group that provides paramilitary-style training to neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and it plays a prominent role in trying to rally like-minded Europeans and Americans into a common front against their perceived enemies. RIM has two training facilities in St. Petersburg, which likely are being used for woodland and urban assault, tactical weapons, and hand-to-hand combat training.
This group has innocent blood on its hands. In August 2016, two Swedish men traveled to St. Petersburg and underwent 11 days of paramilitary-style training provided by RIM.
A few months later, these men and another person conducted a series of terrorist attacks in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. In November 2016, they detonated a bomb outside a café. Two months later, they bombed a migrant center, gravely injuring one person. And three weeks after that, they placed another bomb at a campsite used to house refugees. Thankfully, that device failed to detonate.
RIM does indeed run “Partisan” courses on firearms training, woodsmanship, “military topography”, and similar topics (to the right is an advert for it; note that the gmail is Gariev’s). Bomb construction isn’t mentioned – if the Russian authorities don’t allow them to host their own website, they sure as hell would not look aside on something that wildly illegal. These courses are overseen by a separate organization called “Reserve-Druzhina”, which operates on a commercial basis. They are also open to anyone. If you’re interested, you can sign up and check them out for yourself here.
Swedish authorities were able to arrest the attackers, and they’ve now been tried and convicted for their crimes. The prosecutor who handled their case blamed RIM for radicalizing them and providing the training that enabled the attacks.
I am also not exactly sure how the ideology of Tsar, God, outdoor survival, and reclaiming the Russian lands intersects with removing kebab from Sweden – but OK.
And why now? After all, those events took place more than three years ago.
Here are my, possibly entirely groundless, speculations. Judging from this ThinkProgress report, it appears that some members of RIM were unfortunate enough to establish relationships with Matthew Heimbach – an obese, waddling caricature of a wignat who led something called the “Traditional” “Worker” “Party” while cheating with the wife of his spokesman Matthew Parrott and collecting unemployment benefits from his trailer park compound. This carnival of larping Orthodox freaks disintegrated in 2018, when Heimbach was arrested for assaulting Parrot and his own wife (who was also Parrot’s step-daughter) when they caught him cheating with Parrot’s wife.
However, literally within the past week, Heimbach has “reinvented” himself as a born again anti-racist, recanting his views in a video and article with some ur-Soros vibed NGO called “Light Upon Light: Creating Space Free of Hate.” Now I generally don’t imagine their social rehabilitation services come free. Can one demonstrate true contrition without disavowing and doxing one’s former “comrades” in the movement? At the very least, it is rather strange that a Russian nationalist organization, at least some of whose members had substantial contacts with Heimbach and the Traditional Workers Party, were designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department within a week of Heimbach following in Katie McHugh’s footsteps and pleading with ZOG for forgiveness.
Speculating even further, it would certainly be very convenient for American security agencies with a new, big, juicy list of “white supremacist” targets to reel in. After all, collaborating with foreign terrorists is a serious crime.