Confronting Russia's Role in Transnational White Supremacist Extremism - 2020-02-06

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F0.png Confronting Russia's Role in Transnational White Supremacist Extremism February 6, 2020, Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault, Just Security

A member of the neo-Nazi terror network the Base told a federal prosecutor in December that he believed the group's leader, known then as Norman Spear, was a Russian spy. One month later, the Guardian revealed Spear's true name to be Rinaldo Nazzaro and presented evidence that Nazzaro lives in Russia. BBC subsequently reported that Nazzaro was listed as a guest at a 2019 Russian government security exhibition which "focused on the demonstration of the results of state policy and achievements."

Though Nazzaro's relationship with the Russian government remains uncertain, these reports point to a broader trend: a mutual affection between Western white supremacists and the Russian government. It also highlights the reality that the distinction between foreign terrorism and so-called domestic terrorism is increasingly irrelevant. Dating back to 2004, David Duke characterized Russia as the "key to white survival," and American white supremacist Richard Spencer recently identified Russia as the "sole white power in the world." Both Jared Taylor—founder of the white supremacist outlet American Renaissance—and Matthew Heimbach—a Unite the Right organizer and leader of the now-defunct Traditionalist Workers Party—have met in person with ultranationalist Russian political leaders in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

For its part, the Russian government has exploited this interest. It has both turned a blind eye to far-right paramilitarism within its own borders and actively cultivated neo-Nazism in the West. These decisions align with its broader project to sow discord in Western democracies and influence transcontinental relations, despite its relatively weak military and economy. Russian President Vladimir Putin's support for right-wing violence in the West constitutes an element in his broader destabilization campaign.

Wikipedia cite:
{{cite news | first = Elizabeth Grimm | last = Arsenault | author2 = Joseph Stabile | title = Confronting Russia's Role in Transnational White Supremacist Extremism | url = | work = Just Security | date = February 6, 2020 | accessdate = April 3, 2022 }}