Russian Imperial Movement

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Russian Imperial Movement
Русское Имперское Движениe
LeaderStanislav Vorobyev
Country Russia
MotivesReconvening of Zemsky Sobor to re-establish the Russian Empire
HeadquartersSt. Petersburg
Clerical fascism
Russian nationalism
Russian irredentism
Christian nationalism
White supremacy
Political positionFar-right
AlliesIn Russia:
Russian National Front[3]
 • Black Hundreds
 • Great Russia Party
 • People's Militia named after Minin and Pozharsky
 • Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers
Wagner Group
Outside Russia:
Alliance for Peace and Freedom
 • National Democratic Party of Germany
 • New Force
Other allies:
Atomwaffen Division
The Base[4][5]
Black-Yellow Alliance[dubious ]
Bulgarian National Union
Everything For the Country Party
Power Belongs to the People
Nordic Resistance Movement
Serbian Action
Syrian Social Nationalist Party[6]
Golden Dawn
Former allies:
Party of the Danes
Party of the Swedes
Traditionalist Worker Party
United Romania Party
Battles and warsCentral African Republic Civil War (2012–present)[7]
Libyan Civil War (2014–2020)
Syrian Civil War
Russo-Ukrainian War
Designated as a terrorist group by Canada
February 3, 2021
 United States
April 6, 2020
FlagFlag of the Russian Imperial Movement.svg

The Russian Imperial Movement (RIM; Russian: Русское Имперское Движениe, romanizedRusskoe imperskoe dvizhenie, RID)[10] is a Russian ultranationalist, white supremacist,[11][12] far-right paramilitary organization[13] which operates out of Russia.[14][15][16][17]

As of 2015, its leader is Stanislav Vorobyev.[13][18] It has been designated as a terrorist group by the United States[19][20] and Canada.[8] Some of its publications have been blacklisted in Russia, although the Russian government refuses to designate the group as a terrorist organization.[21]


The Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) was founded in St Petersburg in 2002 by Stanislav Vorobyev.[22]


RIM's website has been found to be part of a broader cluster of websites for political groups in Russia that promote "political Orthodoxy" and monarchy, drawing inspiration from the violent, antisemitic Black Hundreds of early 20th century Russia.[23]: 202 Others groups in this cluster include "For Faith and Fatherland" and the modern revival of the "Union of the Russian People."[23]: 202

Relationship with the Russian state[edit]

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism described the RIM's relationship with the Russian government as “an adversarial symbiosis”; as long as they do not commit terrorism domestically, they are free to operate and offer training to militants and to send troops to conflicts abroad where Russia has a stake in.[24]

Western intelligence officials believe that the RIM has ties with and cooperates with Russian intelligence. The New York Times, citing unnamed U.S. officials, states that RIM is only partially aligned with the Russian government; the movement's leadership has been critical of the government's conduct of the Ukraine invasion, and has accused Putin of corruption. Yet, the RIM and Russian intelligence share common goals abroad, leading to a symbiotic relationship in which Russian intelligence has been able to influence the RIM's actions.[25]

Foreign sanctions[edit]

On 6 April 2020, the U.S. Department of State added the Russian Imperial Movement and three of its leaders (Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev, Denis Valliullovich Gariyev,[26] and Nikolay Nikolayevich Trushchalov[27]) to the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list,[19] thereby making it the first white supremacist group to be designated a terrorist organization by the State Department.[12]

The group was officially designated as a terrorist group in Canada on 3 February 2021.[28][8]

Imperial Legion paramilitary[edit]

Patch of the Russian Imperial Legion

In 2008, RIM formed its paramilitary arm, named the Imperial Legion (Russian: Имперский легион), which has been led by Denis Valliullovich Gariyev since at least 2014,[29] and has called for "young Orthodox men" to dedicate themselves to defending Novorossiya.[23]


The group maintains two training facilities in Saint Petersburg, one of which is known as camp Partizan, located south of Heinäsenmaa [ru] island. Partizan runs training in urban warfare, shooting, tactical medicine, high-altitude activity, military psychology, and survival.[30][12][31]


After the war in Donbas broke out in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, the RIM began training and sending volunteer soldiers to the pro-Russian groups in the conflict in July.[13]

Some members of the Imperial Legion have worked as mercenaries in the Middle East and North Africa. On January 30, 2020, it was reported that Vladimir Skopinov, who had also previously fought in Donbas and Syria, had died in Libya - the second member of the Legion to die there.[32]

Flag of the Russian Imperial Legion

Foreign affiliations and activities[edit]

According to the US State Department, RIM provides paramilitary-style training to extremists throughout Europe and operates two training facilities there.[14]


RIM is affiliated with the Black-Yellow Alliance of Austria. Thus, on November 9, 2019, Vorobyev was invited and took part in the organization's congress, which was held in Parkhotel Schönbrunn [de], a guest house for the palace of Emperor Franz Joseph I.[33]


RIM has provided paramilitary training to Finnish neo-Nazis.[34] Finnish neo-Nazis have been recruited by Johan Bäckman and Janus Putkonen who are aligned with Power Belongs to the People, a local pro-Russian party.[35][36][37][38]


RIM has provided paramilitary training to German neo-Nazis.[34]

In May 2018, German Junge Nationaldemokraten held a gathering in Riesa, Germany, where representatives of RIM took part in together with related organizations such as the neo-Nazi Serbian Action and Bulgarian National Union.[39]

On 5 June 2020, the German magazine Focus reported that the German security services were aware of the training of German neo-Nazis in Russia. However, they could not prohibit the Germans from traveling to Saint Petersburg for legal reasons. The authorities assume that Russian President Vladimir Putin is aware of the camps and "at least tolerates them".[40][41]

In 2022, the German government verified that members of the German NPD youth organization Young Nationalists and the German Neo-Nazi group "Third Way" trained in Russia in this center.[42]


In November 2019, a representative of RIM held a speech in an international conference in Madrid that was organized by the[43] neo-Nazi[39] far-right Spanish political party "National Democracy" which was attended by members of Alliance for Peace and Freedom.[43]

On 29 April 2020, the Spanish Ministry of the Interior received an intelligence report which stated that RIM was inciting its right-wing extremist contacts in Spain to commit acts of terror, such as attacking the infrastructure, transportation system and using chemical weapons against the public.[44]

The RIM - possibly acting as a proxy for Russian intelligence - is believed to have perpetrated the letter bomb terrorist campaign that targeted Spanish governmental institutions, embassies, and military and defense industry installations across Spain in late 2022. Important RIM members are known to have been present in Spain, and the RIM has fostered ties with Spanish far-right groups.[25]


In 2008, RIM visited Sweden in order to attend Karl XII's Memorial Day in Stockholm together with the neo-Nazi Party of the Swedes. In the fall of 2015, it was noted that RIM had provided support to the Swedish Resistance Movement (SMR), and that RIM's leader Vorobyev had visited SMR in Sweden.[13]

On 26 January 2020, a Russian man named Anatoly Udodov was arrested at the Arlanda airport after the police had discovered a cache of weapons belonging to him. The Swedish police had confiscated numerous firearms from him the previous summer due to his connections to SMR. Udodov was described as the representative of RIM in Sweden by Vorobyev and investigators believe he is the local recruiter for the RIM training camps. According to Swedish police Udodov is friends with a convicted terrorist, 23-year-old Viktor Melin. Melin was part of a group of Swedish neo-Nazis who went to Russia for military training, and upon returning was responsible for a string of bombings against minorities and political enemies.[45]

United States[edit]

According to an investigation which was conducted by Infobae, a new cell of Atomwaffen Division receives training from the group. The citizens of the United States who are affiliated with the group are also believed to have taken part in it.[46][47][4][48][30] Later, the National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller confirmed that American neo-Nazis have had contacts with the RIM; specifically, on previous occasions, they have traveled to Russia to train with the group, however Miller described these connections as "relatively loose and informal".[49][50] Leader of the Atomwaffen Division Kaleb Cole allegedly was one of the Americans who was trained by RIM. The ties between Atomwaffen and RIM reach back to 2015 when Brandon Russell met with the leadership of RIM.[51] Additionally both groups adhere to James Mason's accelerationism.[1] According to the Center for International Security and Cooperation;

While RIM has aggressively built ties with European white supremacist groups, its outreach to U.S. organizations has historically occurred on a personal – rather than a formal or an institutional – basis. As of 2020, this pattern may be changing, given RIM’s alleged relationship with the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division’s Russian affiliate.[3]


RIM has also provided paramilitary training to Polish neo-Nazis.[34]

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Bethan; Feldman, Matthew (2021-07-21). "Siege Culture After Siege: Anatomy of a Neo-Nazi Terrorist Doctrine". International Centre for Counter-Terrorism: 1. While [ Atomwaffen Division and Russian Imperial Movement ] are serial purveyors of online extremism and often celebrate terrorism in their fora, deeper similarities extend to a shared ideological embrace of "accelerationism" and, in particular, a recently-revived doctrine advanced by the neo-Nazi ideologue, James Mason, now termed "Siege Culture."...terroristic advocacy of "Siege Culture" has a radicalising effect on right-wing extremists.
  2. ^ "Russian Imperial Movement (RIM)". Counter Extremism Project. 6 October 2022.
  3. ^ a b Mapping Militant Organizations. “Russian Imperial Movement.” Stanford University. Last modified August 2020. "In late 2014, RIM joined a coalition of Russian-far right groups named the Russian National Front. As of 2020, this umbrella includes other ultra-nationalist organizations such as the Great Russia Party, the People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky (NOMP), the Movement For Nationalization and De-Privatization of Strategic Resources of the Country, the Initiative Group for the Referendum “For a Responsible Power” (IGPR “ZOV”), the Russian People’s Council, and the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers
  4. ^ a b "Rinaldo Nazzaro, Leader of the Neo-Nazi Terrorist Group—The Base: Probable Linkages to RIM". C/O Futures. 13 December 2022. p. 13.
  5. ^ "The Brown Internationale". Die Zeit. 30 September 2022.
  6. ^ ""Russian politicians building an international extreme right alliance." Euromaidan Press. Last modified September 2015".
  7. ^ "Radical Russian Imperial Movement Expanding Global Outreach". VOA.
  8. ^ a b c "Government of Canada lists 13 new groups as terrorist entities and completes review of seven others". Government of Canada. 3 February 2021. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  9. ^ "Designation of the Russian Imperial Movement". State.
  10. ^ Marlene Laruelle, Russian Nationalism: Imaginaries, Doctrines, and Political Battlefields (Routledge, 2019), pp. 167, 202-203.
  11. ^ Soufan, Ali; Sales, Nathan. "One of the worst ways Putin is gaslighting the world on Ukraine". NBC News. NBC. Then there's the white supremacist group known as the Russian Imperial Movement, or RIM, which the State Department designated a terrorist organization in 2020 (an effort led by one of the authors here, Nathan Sales). With the Kremlin's tacit approval, the group operates paramilitary camps near St. Petersburg in which neo-Nazis and white supremacists from across Europe are trained in terrorist tactics.
  12. ^ a b c John Hudson, U.S. labels a white-supremacist group 'terrorist' for the first time, Washington Post (April 6, 2020).
  13. ^ a b c d Nato: Främlingshatet kan gödas av främmande makt, Dagens Nyheter 2015-10-27
  14. ^ a b "Sanctions Roundup" (PDF). 2020.
  15. ^ "Russian, American white nationalists raise their flags in Washington". 2017. Russian Imperial Movement is just such a partner to help achieve a sort of internationalized nationalism, especially out of Russia.
  16. ^ "Russian Imperial Movement (RIM)". operating out of Russia with supporters around the world.
  17. ^ Barone, Vincent (June 26, 2020). "State Department says threat of terrorism from white supremacists 'on the rise'". New York Post.
  18. ^ "Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev". Counter Extremism Project. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  19. ^ a b "Designation of the Russian Imperial Movement". United States Department of State. 6 April 2020.
  20. ^ Johnson, Bethan; Feldman, Matthew (2021-07-21). "Siege Culture After Siege: Anatomy of a Neo-Nazi Terrorist Doctrine". International Centre for Counter-Terrorism: 1.
  21. ^ Times, The Moscow (June 5, 2020). "Russian 'Terrorists' Training German Neo-Nazi Youth in Combat – Reports". The Moscow Times.
  22. ^ University, © Stanford. "MMP: Russian Imperial Movement". Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  23. ^ a b c Marlene Laruelle (2018). Russian Nationalism: Imaginaries, Doctrines, and Political Battlefields. Taylor & Francis. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-429-76198-0. The Imperial Legion, the paramilitary arm of the Russian Imperial Movement, calls, for instance, for "young Orthodox men" to commit themselves to defending Novorossiya.
  24. ^ Gartenstein-Ross, Daveed; Hodgson, Samuel; Clarke, Dr Colin P. (February 5, 2021). "The Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) and its Links to the Transnational White Supremacist Extremist Movement". International Centre for Counter-Terrorism.
  25. ^ a b Wong, Edward; Barnes, Julian E.; Schmitt, Eric (2023-01-22). "Russian Agents Suspected of Directing Far-Right Group to Mail Bombs in Spain". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  26. ^ "Denis Valiullovich Gariyev". Counter Extremism Project. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  27. ^ "Nikolay Nikolayevich Trushchalov". Counter Extremism Project. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  28. ^ Aiello, Rachel (2021-02-03). "Canada adds Proud Boys to terror list". CTVNews. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  29. ^ University, © Stanford; Stanford; California 94305. "MMP: Russian Imperial Movement". Retrieved 2022-06-16.
  30. ^ a b "Club Partizan, el campo de entrenamiento militar en Rusia para los neonazis del mundo (Club Partizan, the military training ground in Russia for the neo-Nazis of the world)". Infobae. June 14, 2020.
  31. ^ "Combat training for European neo-Nazis in Russia". Lansing Institute. 14 January 2022.
  32. ^ "Russian mercenary who fought in Donbas killed in Libya". UAWire. 7 April 2020.
  33. ^ "Монархисты Австрии пригласили на свой конгресс главаря российских неонацистов". National News Agency of Ukraine. 7 April 2020.
  34. ^ a b c "United States Designates Russian Imperial Movement and Leaders as Global Terrorists". US Department of State. 7 April 2020.
  35. ^ "Itä-Ukrainassa Venäjän puolesta taistelleet suomalaiset kehuskelevat kokemuksillaan – muualla Euroopassa vierastaistelijoita on tuomittu rikoksista". Finnish Broadcasting Company. January 12, 2022.
  36. ^ "Wednesday's papers: Neo-nazi training, employment discrimination, fighting swans". Finnish Broadcasting Company. January 12, 2022.
  37. ^ "Finnish Neo-Nazis attend paramilitary trainings in Russia". European Jewish Congress. January 12, 2022.
  38. ^ "Suomen uusnatsit hankkivat nyt oppia Venäjältä: järjestön koulutuskeskus järjestää haulikko- ja pistooliammuntaa, "partisaanikursseja" ja kieltää kiroilun". Helsingin Sanomat. January 12, 2022.
  39. ^ a b "EUROPA – JUGEND – [RE]GENERATION.3. JN-EUROPAKONGRESS: EIN RÜCKBLICK". Junge Nationalisten. 15 April 2020.
  40. ^ "Deutsche Neonazis werden in Russland militärisch geschult". Focus. 5 June 2020.
  41. ^ Pladson, Kristie (2020-06-05). "German neo-Nazis trained at Russian camps: report". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2020-06-05.
  42. ^ "Deutsche Neonazis in Russland an Waffen ausgebildet". (in German). Retrieved 2022-06-16.
  43. ^ a b "España, foco de la revuelta". Democracia Nacional. 7 April 2020.
  44. ^ "Un informe de Interior alerta de planes para esparcir el coronavirus y atacar torres de 5G". El Confidencial. 29 April 2020.
  45. ^ ""За Рассею пострадать хочу". Почему в Швеции судят националиста из СССР". BBC News. 7 April 2020.
  46. ^ Spencer Beswick (6 January 2023). "The Jan. 6 coup blared an alarm about rising fascism. Will we hear it?". With Trump out of office, a worrying number of fascist groups today are repeating the revolutionary turn of the 1980s, from neo-Nazis like the Atomwaffen Division (also known as the National Socialist Resistance Front), which has sought military training with both the Ukrainian Azov Battalion and the Russian Imperial Movement
  47. ^ "We Applied to Join a Neo-Nazi Group Fighting in Ukraine". Unicorn Riot. 25 December 2022. Archived from the original on 25 December 2022. There has been an AWD cell in Russia since 2020 and it has close relations with the paramilitary, radical right group known as the Russian Imperial Movement. Many of the members of AWD have received military training from the latter.
  48. ^ "V 'denacifikacijo' Ukrajine tudi ruski neonacisti (Russian neo-Nazis are also involved in the 'denazification' of Ukraine)". 14 October 2022. Among those listed, the Atomwaffen Division, founded in the USA, which is closely connected to both Russian and Ukrainian ultra-right groups, is certainly still operating illegally. In doing so, it cooperates with the Azov battalion, which is banned on the territory of Russia, and the Russian imperialist movement, which the US State Department estimates enables the training of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Europe.
  49. ^ "FBI Worried About Clashes Between Violent Groups Before US Vote". The Globe Post. October 3, 2020.
  50. ^ "Neo-Nazi organizations and radicals as a tool of influence in Scandinavia". 9 February 2023. Meanwhile, Canada and the U.S. recognized the RIM as a terrorist organization, which is suspected of being involved in mailing improvised explosive devices in late 2022. Besides, two RIM members were killed in Libya, which is validly suggests their affiliation with the GRU. In 2022, organization members took part in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The RIM is also reported to have a relationship with the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division's Russian affiliate. We see common features in the structure and functioning of Atomwaffen Division and the NRM, which suggests common sources of their organizational development.
  51. ^ "Washington's Defunct Atomwaffen Division had Deep Ties to the Terrorist Org, Russia Imperialist Movement". Malcontent News. 6 August 2022.

External links[edit]