(New York, N.Y.) – German neo-Nazis are training with the far-right Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) to gain proficiency in more advanced military-style tactics, according to a report by German news magazine Focus. The RIM, which was recently designated by the United States as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, is said to have hosted extremists who belonged to the youth wings of two German political parties considered to be neo-Nazi movements, the National Democratic Party and The Third Path. The training reportedly took place at a camp known as Partizan near Saint Petersburg, where former Russian military members conduct trainings on bombmaking, marksmanship, combat medicine, and small-group tactics such as assaulting and clearing buildings.
Additionally, the RIM has supported the efforts of neo-Nazi groups in Scandinavia. Two members of the Swedish, neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, Viktor Melin and Anton Thulin, underwent the Partizan military training course before carrying out a series of bomb attacks against refugee centers in Sweden in January 2017. During their trial, the prosecutor stated that “attending this paramilitary camp in St. Petersburg was a key step in Melin and Thulin’s radicalization.…We also believe it may be the place where they learned to manufacture the bombs that they used in Gothenburg.”
Matthew Heimbach, founder of the U.S.-based Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), met RIM representatives in the United States in September 2017. Heimbach said of the meeting, “We’re really aiming to have TWP kind of be the representative of America at the future gatherings of the Russian Imperial Movement.” According to Heimbach, he and the RIM have been in contact since at least 2015. Heimbach was a central organizer of the August 2017 Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville, where a vehicle attack by a white supremacist killed one and injured at least 30 others.
The RIM, its paramilitary branch known as the Imperial Legion, and the Partizan training course are all able to attract foreign interest through their online outreach, largely conducted via their official VKontakte (VK) pages, which have more than 30,000 followers. The group makes no attempt to hide its training operations, publicizing its address on the Partizan VK social media page, and many foreigners have reportedly taken the course after learning about it online. Partizan runs for one to two weeks, training groups of between 10 and 15 men at a time.