U.S. gives ‘terrorist’ label to white supremacist group

A training session of the Russian Imperial Movement in St. Petersburg in 2015.

A training session of the Russian Imperial Movement in St. Petersburg in 2015.  

Russia-based ultra-nationalist movement is the first such organisation to be given the designation

The Trump administration on Monday designated an ultranationalist group based in Russia as a terrorist organisation, according to officials. It is the first time the government applied the label to a white supremacist group.

While the label of specially designated global terrorist has been frequently used for Islamist extremists, there have been growing concerns among U.S. officials about violent white supremacists with transnational links over the past five years. In 2018, the White House added that threat to the government’s National Strategy for Counterterrorism.

The State Department’s designation for the organisation, the Russian Imperial Movement, sets up the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to block any American property or assets belonging to the group. It will also bar Americans from financial dealings with the organisation and make it easier to ban its members from travelling to the U.S.

The U.S. is also designating three of the group’s leaders — Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev, Denis Valliullovich Gariev and Nikolay Nikolayevich Trushchalov — as individual terrorists who will face similar sanctions, officials said.

The authority for either the Treasury Department or the State Department to deem a group or an individual a specially designated global terrorist traces back to an executive order issued by President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Signing of order

President Donald Trump in September signed an executive order expanding that authority to cover groups that provide training for terrorists even if the groups are not directly linked to any attack.

The Russian Imperial Movement is not considered to be sponsored by the Russian government, officials said, although President Vladimir Putin has tolerated its activities and it has helped advance the Russian government’s external goals by recruiting Russian fighters to aid pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine. The group has also helped support neo-Nazi groups in Scandinavia.

Ambassador Nathan A. Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, said the group operated two facilities in St. Petersburg, that offered paramilitary training to neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Although a Russian Imperial Movement member has visited the U.S., the organisation does not appear to have domestic members. It is not clear if the group has provided training to U.S.-based neo-Nazis. NY Times

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 3:16:12 AM |

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