Over the past several years, high-profile terrorist attacks by violent white supremacist extremists [WSE] have gained worldwide attention and thrust the movement onto the front page of the news.
White Supremacist Extremist followers congregate online to:
▪︎ spread propaganda
▪︎ recruit new members
▪︎ intimidate minorities
And as the movement continues to grow, it has sought to expand its network globally.
Among the most high-profile organizations in the broader constellation of ultra-nationalist and WSE orgs is the Russian Imperial Movement, (RIM)
RIM has served as a catalyst for politically motivated violence from St. Petersburg to Stockholm and beyond.
Groups like The Base, Atomwaffen Division (AWD), or the Azov Battalion get the most media attention, but RIM has efficiently built an infrastructure that has allowed it to expand its network, train terrorist operatives, & entrench itself as a viable entity in Russian society
Internationally, the far-right continues to mobilize in Europe, where organized marches took place in Budapest, Hungary and Sofia, Bulgaria, and were attended by neo-Nazis from Germany, Sweden, Poland, the US and elsewhere.
International institutions are recognizing the threat that far-right and white supremacy groups pose and are growing increasingly concerned about their transnational connections.
November 2019
following a global spike in white supremacist violence, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law hosted a scoping workshop on Racially- and Ethnically- Motivated Terrorism (‘REMT’) in Valletta, Malta.
The workshop brought together 35 policy practitioners from 12 countries across Africa, Asia, North America and the Caribbean, as well as 13 international orgs to better define and understand the threat posed by ‘REMT.’
The UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), a counterterrorism body of the UN Security Council, published a trends report in April 2020 underscoring concerns by UN member states of the growing and increasingly transnational threat of extreme right-wing terrorism.
The report included research indicating...
🚨an alarming 320% ↑ rise in terrorist attacks by individuals or groups affiliated with such extremist movements over the past 5 years.
What is the Russian Imperial Movement?

RIM is an ultra-nationalist & paramilitary group that believes in the notion of a Russian autocratic monarchy that harkens to the days of imperial rule under monarchists like Nikolai II.
Concerned with fighting against globalization, multiculturalism, and liberalism, RIM is an essential part of the broader international WSE project, even if it mostly hovers on the periphery of this movement at various points.
RIM plays a prominent role in the violent white supremacy movement, as documented by the September 2019 report of The Soufan Center titled ‘White Supremacy Extremism: The Transnational Rise of the Violent White Supremacist Movement.’
The group’s membership is rigid and adheres to the dualistic beliefs that members should be part of the Russian Orthodox Church and conform to the group’s view of the necessity of creating a Russian Imperial state.

RIM’s vitriol is aimed at Jews & Ukrainian nationalists.
Denis Valliullovich Gariev, the militant leader of RIM who was one of three RIM leaders sanctioned, was quoted as saying,
‘We [RIM] see Ukrainian-ness as rabies... either quarantine or liquidation, or he’ll infect everyone.’
RIM also views Western societies (the US & Eu) as enemies that are attempting to weaken, kill, or otherwise undermine Russian nationalism & Russian influence throughout the world.
The State Department cited particular incidents that led to the designation of RIM and its leaders.

August 2016
two Swedish men participated in 11 days of paramilitary-style training provided by RIM in St. Petersburg, Russia.
A few months later, these men + an alleged accomplice conducted a series of terrorist attacks in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

November of 2016
the individuals detonated a bomb outside a book cafe.
Jan 2017
they bombed a location used as a migrant center.

A few weeks later, early 2017, they placed another bomb at a campsite used to house refugees, which failed to detonate.

Swedish authorities arrested the attackers, & they were prosecuted and convicted for their crimes.
While RIM was not added to the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list, at least not at the time of this writing in late April, the designations provide critical leverage to other U.S. agencies as they attempt to combat the organization.
If an individual willfully provides support to RIM, he/she can be criminally prosecuted for violating 50 U.S.C § 1705.
RIM has played an important role in fostering connections between various elements of the international WSE movement, as demonstrated by its involvement in Ukraine, primarily through its self-described military wing known as the ‘IMPERIAL LEGION.’
RIM is not an official arm of the Russian state, although its close ties with elements of the Russian political & religious establishment lend it a sense of legitimacy that few non-state actors enjoy.
Ukraine has emerged as a hub in the broader network of transnational WSE, attracting foreign recruits from all over the world.
White supremacists learn combat in Ukraine, where the conflict between pro-Russian separatists & Ukrainian government forces has been raging since 2014, attracting fighters from around the globe who are fighting on both sides.
Recent research shows that around 17,000 foreigners from over 50 countries, including the US, have gone to fight in the conflict in Ukraine.

RIM has played a decisive role in Ukraine on the pro-separatist side, sending at least 300 fighters to battle in 2014 alone.
RIM also operates several combat training courses, known as 📍PARTIZAN, which is tolerated by Russian authorities and operates freely in Russia.
RIM combat program
▪︎ offers weapons training
▪︎ teaches recruits a range of paramilitary tactics
▪︎ run by Denis Valliullovich Gariev
▫︎ former Russian Armed Forces veteran
▫︎ sanctioned by the US
▫︎ fmr member of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces
A specialized PARTIZAN course offered by RIM is titled ‘English for Communication with Captured NATO Troops’ & includes lectures on the US Army & how to interrogate a captured adversary in English.
RIM training camps in St. Petersburg:
▪︎ the most concerning elements of RIM’s activity
▪︎ offers hands-on training to recruits

“There is no substitute for tacit knowledge transfer, particularly when it comes to bomb-making know-how and diffusion of explosives expertise”
📍RIM actively seeks to attract foreigners
Some foreigners have returned to their countries of origin and committed acts of violence.
The most well-known example
two Swedish nationals who were former members of the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM): Anton Thulin and Viktor Melin.
fall of 2016:
After participating in a RIM paramilitary training camp, Thulin & Melin went on to carry out several bombings in Sweden in late 2016/early 2017

Targets included two locations used to temporarily house asylum seekers
The Imperial Legion’s presence in Syria is described as ‘Our Crusade’ to protect the Christian faith. Similar to propaganda by al-Qaeda & ISIL, RIM’s military wing urges its followers to actively fight what they see as the enemies of Christianity, and ‘killing anti-Christians.’
One of the clearest and most direct examples that highlight RIM’s transnational connections including to the US & the influence other terrorist groups have had on the WSE movement, can be understood when considering the actions and ops of US white supremacist Matthew HEIMBACH.
⚑ reportedly received funding from RIM
⚑ invited to train with RIM in RU
⚑ aspired to set up meetings with RIM reps in RU & EU
🙃 has SUPPOSEDLY renounced his ties to the WSE movement.
Stanislav Shevchuk

⚑ reportedly based in Barcelona, Spain
⚑ engages in networking in Western Europe on behalf of RIM
Nov 2019—National Democracy party (Spanish far-right) internat’l conference
participated as a speaker
ther well-known figures from Europe’s right-wing scene also attended, including Nick Griffin, former UK leader of the far-right British National Party (BNP)
According to RIM leader Vorobyev, 2019 was an important year for RIM to establish new ties to likeminded orgs in Western Eu

RIM reportedly participated in several events across Europe in 2019
Poland, Bulgaria, and Austria.
In an interview, Vorobyev identified Germany as the next most important country for the movement in Europe.
March 2015, several well-known US white supremacists, including Jared Taylor, spoke at the International Russian Conservative Forum in St. Petersburg organized by the Rodina party and heavily attended by RIM.
Taylor mingled with members of
Golden Dawn (Greece)
National Democratic Party (Germany)
Forza Nuova (Italy)

Later in 2015
RIM announced their ‘World National Conservative Movement’ (WNCM) together with the extreme right Rodina party in Russia
▪︎ transnational movement ideologically aligned against the Western principles
▪︎ promotes violence through its ‘joint camps for military and athletic instruction’
▪︎ used as platform for organizing an ideological transnational network
WNCM has invited over 50 orgs/ parties to participate, many, EU & US WSE orgs including:
▪︎ Nordic Resistance Movement (Scandinavia/Sweden)
▪︎ Golden Dawn (Greece)
▪︎ American Freedom Party
▪︎ British Unity
▪︎ National Democratic Party of Germany + others.
Also, in September 2015, RIM representatives visited Sweden to participate in meetings with the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM)
RIM leader Vorobyov gave a speech professing that ‘a full-scale war against the traditional values of Western civilization’ was imminent and explained that he and his men were fighting ‘the Jewish oligarchs in Ukraine’ on the side of pro-Russian extremists in Eastern Ukraine.
According to both NRM and RIM, the latter has contributed funds for NRM to establish a political party, which was announced at the event attended by the RIM leadership.
These ideological links between NRM and RIM are critical, especially as RIM positions itself at the center of a growing transnational movement.
RIM has all of the necessary elements to make NRM a dangerous global terrorist organization, including resources, training camps, ideological support, and the ability to recruit new members and expand its network abroad.
RIM’s close ties to Scandinavia provide the group with a foothold in Europe and an opportunity to recruit foreign fighters to its movement.
RIM is a unique ultra-nationalist group in that, while not an arm of the Russian government, is one that appears to exist with the implicit approval of Moscow.
While the group has expressed disdain for Putin, both Putin and RIM promote an orthodox narrative discourse, in Putin’s case to consolidate power, and in RIM’s case to attract recruits and build its movement.
RIM’s members have gone to fight in Ukraine, even alongside foreigners including the ultra-nationalist Continental Unity, a French-Serbian legion whose leaders reportedly are veterans from Afghanistan, Chad, and other conflicts, and provides combat training to Western recruits.
One could describe RIM as opportunist, and one that exercises strategic and tactical flexibility, much like the MO of Moscow itself.
While RIM is an ultranationalist and fascist group, its members have been on the frontlines of battle in Syria and Libya, alongside strange bedfellows who do not fit the typical white male profile that most far-right and white supremacist groups consist of.
This dynamic begs the question of the underlying relationship between RIM and Moscow.
You can follow @LuluLemew.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: