(New York, N.Y.) — The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) published a new report, Looks Can Be Deceiving: Extremism Meets Paramilitarism In Central And Eastern Europe. The report, authored by CEP affiliated researcher Kacper Rekawek, examines case studies from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine and outlines potential security risks as well as avenues to mitigate threats associated with extremism in paramilitary groups throughout Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
The activities of paramilitary organizations whose members share viewpoints with the broader Western European far-right or its most aggressive and militant component, the extreme right-wing (XRW), and their access to commercial training should be of concern to officials in CEE—a region that right-wing extremists in the West regard as a homogenous, traditional, Christian, “white” region of Europe in which they are allegedly free to “be themselves.”
Two potential developments should concern policymakers and security authorities: the potential for Western right-wing extremists to connect with CEE paramilitaries and the potential for Western right-wing extremists making a more concerted use of the sprawling paramilitary infrastructure in Ukraine. The possibility of a truly transnational and paramilitary XRW arch stretching from Moscow via CEE into the heart of Western Europe is not unthinkable.
Consequently, the policy recommendations of this report are aimed towards mitigating these two potential threats. They advise a focus and further analysis of the CEE’s pan-Slavic and non-governmental paramilitaries and their links to Moscow; advise involving Ukrainian authorities in collecting information about foreigners seeking training there, similar to the already ongoing cooperation between the Ukraine and the United States; and exploring the possibility of restricting travel of high-risk violent right-wing extremist individuals in order to bar them from accessing the commercial training infrastructure. Finally, the report suggests exploring the Czech Republic’s existing legal arrangements barring paramilitary training for civilians as a potential blueprint for similar legal mechanisms.
To read CEP’s report, Looks Can Be Deceiving: Extremism Meets Paramilitarism In Central And Eastern Europe, please click here.
To watch CEP’s webinar from April 20, Extremism Meets Paramilitarism In Central, Eastern, And Southern Europe, please click here.