US State Department Designates the Russian Imperial Movement as Terrorist Organization
On April 6, 2020, the US designated the Russian Imperial Movement (RID - RIM) led by Stanislav Vorobyov as terrorist.
The Trump administration on April 6, 2020 labeled the Russian Orthodox monarchist organization Russian Imperial Movement (RIM; established in 2002, headquartered in St. Petersburg, led by Stanislav Vorobyov) a terrorist organization. According to the New York Times, this is the first time the designation has been made for a white supremacist group. Previously, this tool has been used to target mostly radical Islamist groups.
The New York Times suggests that this measure will be followed by the blocking of all the assets of RIM in the US and the ban on conducting any transactions with its representatives; members of RIM may also be banned from entering the country. Earlier, the newspaper reported that the US authorities were going to designate as terrorists three of RIM leaders, Stanislav Vorobyov, Denis Gariev and Nikolai Trushchalov.
Unfortunately, exactly which actions of RIM have led to this decision by the US authorities has not been made clear yet. Only RIM’s international activity could be the culprit. The US may have been alerted by RIM’s involvement in the conflict in the southeast of Ukraine or by its links to the activists who carried out a series of bomb attacks in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2016-2017.
RIM has been involved in the conflict in Ukraine since the events in Crimea. Back in February 2014, the RIM delegation visited Kiev, where it met with the Kiev branch of the Union of the Russian People and representatives of the Svoboda (Freedom) party. On February 28, Vorobyov flew to Crimea accompanied by an airplane full of Russian military instructors who were tasked with organizing a local resistance movement to the Kiev government.
Since May, RIM has been involved in the fight for “Novorossiya”. RIM’s paramilitary clubs, Reserve and Imperial Legion, led by Denis Gariev, were recruiting and training volunteer fighters willing to join the fighting on the side of the separatists in the Donbass. RIM was also involved in the transport of fighters: the Reserve club sent groups of 5-6 fighters from St. Petersburg to the area of the Rostov region bordering Ukraine; they then entered Donetsk and Lugansk regions through a “humanitarian corridor”.
Additionally, RIM had its own volunteer force, named Imperial Legion, like the club, that fought on the side of the DPR and LPR. Initially, the Legionnaires fought under commander Igor Strelkov; after his departure from the Donbass in October 2014, they were incorporated into the Prizrak (Ghost) brigade led by Alexey Mozgovoi (LPR) and participated in battles in Slavyansk, Nikishino and others. In January 2016, RIM reported that the Imperial Legion withdrew from the Donbass.
In the fall and winter of 2016-2017, several terrorist attacks shook the Swedish city of Gothenburg. The first explosion went off on November 11, 2016 at the premises of the Syndicalist Forum, a meeting place of a Swedish left-wing organization. Luckily, no one was injured. On January 5, 2017, an explosive device was detonated at a refugee center in the west of the city; one of its staff sustained serious injuries to legs. The third bomb was found on January 25, 2017 at a campground on the outskirts of the city where asylum seekers were temporarily housed. It failed to detonate due to an error during assembly.
The alleged bombers were arrested: 51-year-old Jimmy Jonasson, 23-year-old Viktor Melin and 20-year-old Anton Thulin. The investigation revealed that in the summer of 2016, they received paramilitary training in Russia at the “Partisan” course run by the RIM Reserve club. Photos showing Melin and Thulin, Kalashnikov rifles in their hands, standing among other cadets were found by journalists in the comments by one of the cadets of the Reserve club in the VKontakte social network. Most likely, the Swedish neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement served as the link between the bombers and RIM. The investigation revealed its ties to the defendants and its prior interactions with RIM. For example, the RIM delegation headed by Vorobyov attended a Nordic Resistance Movement assembly in Skara, Sweden, on September 5, 2015.