This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
German neo-Nazis are conducting paramilitary training with a Russian ultranationalist group at a camp near St. Petersburg, German magazine Focus reported on June 5.
Citing German security sources, Focus said members of the far-right National Democratic Party’s (NDP) youth wing and neo-Nazi The Third Path completed training at the camp run by the Russian Imperial Movement.
In April, the United States designated the Russian Imperial Movement along with three of its leaders as terrorists, marking the first time the classification has been applied to a white supremacist group.
Focus reported that German neo-Nazis have received training in using arms, explosives, and hand-to-hand combat at a camp named Partizan near St. Petersburg.
Several German graduates, as well as Swedes and Finns, later joined Russia-backed separatist militias in eastern Ukraine, Focus reported.
German authorities told Focus they are aware of the training but for legal reasons could not prevent right-wing extremists from traveling to Russia.
Focus reported that German security officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is aware of the camps and tolerates them.
The Russian Imperial Movement describes itself as a “Russian Orthodox national-patriotic and monarchist organization” that aims to restore an autocratic monarchy in Russia.
The group also seeks the declaration of Russia as a mono-ethnic state centered on what it classifies as the three branches of the Russian people — Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians.
The movement has branches in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Nizhny Novgorod and its military wing, the Imperial Legion, provides paramilitary style training to neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
In April, Ambassador Nathan Sales, the U.S. State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, said the Russian Imperial Movement seeks to “to rally like-minded Europeans and Americans into a common front against their perceived enemies.”