The anti-Semitic demo in London – a Moscow’s KGB-style psy-op?

As the readers of this blog perfectly know, the Kremlin is actively cooperating – sometimes financially – with European far right parties. However, Moscow may also be engaged in even more sinister activities, namely whipping up racial hatred in the West in order to discredit democratic societies that have taken a strong position on sanctions against Russia for its war on Ukraine.

While it cannot be conclusively proven yet, the “anti-Jewification” demonstration that took place in London on 4 July might be an example of such activities. At least, there are sound reasons to suspect exactly this.

The demonstration was organised by the neo-Nazi Eddy Stampton who is notorious for drunken violence towards women, and was attended, among others, by his neo-Nazi mate Piers Mellor; the head of the far right IONA London Forum JeremyJezBedford-Turner; and Britain-based activists of the Polish fascist National Revival of Poland (Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski).

Violent neo-Nazi Eddy Stampton leading the demonstration, 4 July 2015, London. Photo: Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty Images
Violent neo-Nazi Eddy Stampton leading the demonstration, 4 July 2015, London. Photo: Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty Images
Jeremy "Jez" Bedford-Turner with a loud-speaker, followed by the activists from the National Revival of Poland, 4 July 2015, London. Photo: Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty Images
Jeremy “Jez” Bedford-Turner with a loud-speaker, followed by the activists from the National Revival of Poland, 4 July 2015, London. Photo: Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty Images
Piers Mellor speaking at the demo, 4 July 2015, London. Photo: Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty Images
Piers Mellor speaking at the demo, 4 July 2015, London. Photo: Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty Images

The anti-Semitic demo in London was not the first time that Stampton, Mellor, Bedford-Turner and the Polish fascists came together. On 29 November 2014, they organised a demo in support of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party by the Embassy of Greece in London.

Jeremy "Jez" Bedford-Turner (a man with a loud-speaker on the left), Eddy Stampton (a man in a cap), and Piers Mellor at a demonstration in support of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, 29 November 2015, London
Jeremy “Jez” Bedford-Turner (a man with a loud-speaker on the left), Eddy Stampton (a man in a cap), and Piers Mellor at a demonstration in support of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, 29 November 2015, London

Most prominent participants of the London anti-Semitic demo last Saturday are not simply fascists: all of them are in one way or another connected to the Russians.

Bedford-Turner leads the self-styled “New Right” IONA London Forum that hosted, on 12 October 2013, a conference titled “The end of the present world: the post-American century and beyond”. The main speaker at this conference was infamous Russian fascist Aleksandr Dugin, who is building links between Western far right/far left organisations and Moscow, and who was also involved, in 2006, in training of the activists from the pro-Russian extremist organisation Donetsk Republic. Bedford-Turner also invited Russian neo-Nazi activist Denis Nikitin to speak at one of the Forum’s meetings in August 2014.

This was not the only connection between Nikitin and the British extreme right: Nikitin, who also directs the Russian White Rex company engaged in organising mixed martial arts tournaments in Russia and Europe, was a key person who provided fitness ­sessions to British neo-Nazis at a training camp in Wales. Are the Russians involved in training of would-be right-wing British terrorists?

Denis Nikitin, founder and head of White Rex
Denis Nikitin, founder and head of White Rex

Another participant of the anti-Semitic demo, Australian London-based neo-Nazi Piers Mellor, also participated in the Moscow-inspired anti-Ukrainian protest in March 2015.

Together with Mellor, protesting against non-existing UK arms supplies to Ukraine, was Graham Phillips, a British RT propagandist and strong supporter of pro-Russian extremists in Eastern Ukraine, including the Donetsk Republic, where he spent most of 2014.

Neo-Nazi Piers Mellor (left) and RT propagandist Graham Phillips (a bald man on the right) at an anti-Ukrainian protest, March 2015, London
Neo-Nazi Piers Mellor (left) and RT propagandist Graham Phillips (a bald man on the right) at an anti-Ukrainian protest, March 2015, London

Upon his return to London, Phillips immediately joined the UK Independence Party (UKIP) whose leaders, including Nigel Farage and Diane James, have openly expressed admiration of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. UKIP MEPs are also active opponents of the sanctions against Russia.

RT, Russia’s major tool of its information warfare against the West, has immediately reported on the neo-Nazi gathering in London, but of course without mentioning any connections between the participants of the demo and the Russians.

Why would the Kremlin be interested in whipping up racial hatred in Britain? The fact is that when the Russians find it difficult to buy political influence in a particular Western country, they try to discredit it as a hotbed of fascism. The classic example is the KGB’s psy-op in Western countries at the end of the 1950s.

The KGB and its counterparts in the countries of the Warsaw Pact infiltrated neo-Nazi organisations in West Germany and some other Western countries, in order to goad them into extremist activities and then accuse Western societies of the alleged resurgence of Nazism. The most prominent case is the “swastika operation” devised by Soviet KGB General Ivan Agayants and carried out in 1959-1960 in Western cities and towns. In that period, KGB agents painted swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on synagogues, tombstones and Jewish-owned shops in West Germany. Jewish families received anonymous hate mail and threatening phone calls. The initial KGB operation would stir up residual anti-Semitic sentiments in Western societies and, consequently, produce a snowball effect where troublemakers would carry out anti-Semitic activities on their own. The “swastika operation” in West Germany caused considerable damage to the reputation of the country in the West: its diplomats were ostracised, West German products boycotted, Bonn assailed for the alleged inability to deal with Nazism, and questions were raised about the credibility of the country as a member of NATO.

The established connections between the organisers/participants of the anti-Semitic demonstration in London and the Russian actors (as well as other evidence) provide a good reason to suspect that Moscow is now involved in similar psy-ops in Britain.


 

Originally published by Anton Shekhovtsov

Russia hosting Europe’s neo-Nazis, nationalists and anti-semites, Putin supporters all

Even as Moscow denounces anything it views as a manifestation of fascism abroad and prepares to mark the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, the Russian authorities are hosting tomorrow a meeting of Europe’s neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists, and anti-Semites who share one thing in common – their unqualified support for Vladimir Putin.

The meeting called the first “Russian International Conservative Forum” and nominally hosted by the Russian National Cultural Center – People’s House is in fact the work of the Rodina Party and says it includes only European rightists who support Putin on Ukraine.

The organizers say that those taking part are “exclusively” from parties officially registered in European countries and that they could not be if they were neo-Nazi because “this is a criminal ideology which is banned in Europe.” What these parties do share is opposition to their governments “which are US puppets.”

Further, Yuri Lyubomirsky, head of the Right to Bear Arms group and one of the organizers says, “all these parties actively defend the interests of Russia regarding Crimea and the events in Ukraine’s South-East.” And he expressed “hope for constructive cooperation” between them and like-minded Russians such as himself.

Not surprisingly, this action has outraged many in Russia from the communists to Yabloko party member Boris Vishnevsky to human rights activists who have called on the government to ban the meeting and say they will picket and possibly disrupt it if the authorities do nothing to stop this assemblage from taking place.

Just how noxious this meeting is and how it underscores just how few people in Europe Putin’s regime can get to openly support it as opposed to the far larger number who are not prepared to do anything to oppose the Kremlin is underscored by the list of those who are scheduled to speak or otherwise take part.

They include:

  • Jared Taylor, an American who calls for white supremacy.
  • Nick Griffin, head of the British National Party and a prominent Holocaust denier.
  • Roberto Fiore, head of the New Force party in Italy which pursues traditionalist and extreme right causes.
  • Udo Voigt. Former head of the rightwing extremist National Democratic Party of Germany and now a deputy in the European Parliament noted for his anti-semitic and xenophobic views and frequently found subject to legal sanctions for them.
  • Georgios Epitidios, a representative of Greece’s Golden Dawn party which is viewed in Athens as neo-fascist and neo-Nazi and whose party’s emblem is a stylized swastika.
  • Stefan Jakobsen, the head of the Party of Swedes and who is widely considered a neo-Nazi.
  • Daniel Karlsen, the head of the Danish People’s Party and one of the founding members of the National Socialist Movement of Denmark.
  • Gonsalo Martin Garcia, a leader of the ultra-right Spanish National Democracy Party.
  • Orazio Maria Gnerre, president of the European Communist Party Millenium which seeks the dissolution of NATO and the end of what he calls “the hegemony of liberalism and the unipolar world.”
  • Aleksandr Kofman, the foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Peoples Republic.

And from Russia itself, among others:

  • Aleksey Zhuravlyev, a United Russia Duma deputy who has attracted attention for his calls to strip the rights of those in non-traditional families to have children.
  • Yegor Kholmogorov, a Russian nationalist who has said that “the war for Novorossiya is a national liberation war of the Russian people for its reunification and for the elimination of invented borders.”
  • Stanislav Vorobyev, the coordinator of the Russian Imperial Movement who has called for “Russian men to join the joint struggle for Novorossiya under the imperial flag.”

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Ivan Ovsyannikov of the Russian Socialist Movement notes that “the forum calls itself conservative, but this is a lie. These are not people like the British conservatives; these are parties of the extreme right wing.” And Boris Vishnevsky, a Yabloko deputy in St. Petersburg’s legislative assembly, concurs.

He says that he is horrified by any manifestations of interest in fascism in foreign countries but notes that he is not a citizen of any of them and consequently is “not responsible” for their laws. But he is a Russian citizen, and as such he feels entitled to ask: “Why should such forums take place in my country with the complete silence of state structures?”

“I do not know how any former [Waffen SS] legionnaires remain in Latvia,” he continues, but I consider that they are less dangerous for society that contemporary neo-Nazis who can freely assembly and disseminate their views” as such people plan to do in Russia’s northern capital on Sunday.

“And the views [of those planning to come] are xenophobia, hatred of aliens and dividing people into categories which always gives rise to bloodshed. To the manifestation of fascism in one’s own country one must react with the very same intolerance as to fascism somewhere else,” Vishnevsky concludes.

How cronyism exploits Ukrainian neo-Nazis

Ukraine’s early presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year proved to be disastrous for the Ukrainian party-political far right.

Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union “Freedom” (Svoboda), obtained 1.16% of the vote in the presidential election, while his party secured only 4.71% of the vote in the parliamentary election and, eventually, failed to pass the 5% electoral threshold and enter the parliament. In comparison, Svoboda obtained 10.44% of the votes in 2012 and formed the first ever far right parliamentary group in Ukraine’s history. Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector, obtained 0.70% in the presidential election, and 1.80% of the voters supported his party in the parliamentary election.

However, the electoral failure of Svoboda and the Right Sector did not mark “the end of history” of the Ukrainian far right, and some other developments proved to be much more problematic. One of these developments is the rise of the previously obscure neo-Nazi organisation “Patriot of Ukraine” (PU) led by Andriy Bilets’ky.

Neo-Nazi leader Andriy Biletskyi. Kharkiv, several years ago
Neo-Nazi leader Andriy Biletskyi. Kharkiv, several years ago

A member of Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front party, Avakov promoted the Azov battalion and granted the rank of police Lieutenant Colonel to its commander Biletskyi in August. The People’s Front also brought Biletskyi into the military council of the party and apparently planned to officially support his candidacy in the parliamentary election, but, due to the opposition to such a move from the Ukrainian expert community and representatives of national minorities, the People’s Front was forced to re-think its decision. However, the People’s Front, in particular Avakov and his advisor Anton Herashchenko, still supported Biletskyi unofficially, and he was elected into the parliament in a single-member district in Kyiv. After the elections, Avakov appointed Vadym Troyan, deputy commander of the Azov battalion and a top member of the PU, as head of the Kyiv region police.Like some other leaders of the PU, Biletskyi did not take part in the 2014 revolution, as he had been in jail since the end of 2011. Biletskyi and his associates were released – as “political prisoners” – only after the revolution. In May, the PU formed a core of the Azov battalion, a volunteer detachment governed by the Ministry of Interior headed by Arsen Avakov.

At a gathering of the Azov battalion. Kyiv, 2014
At a gathering of the Azov battalion. Kyiv, 2014

Avakov, Biletskyi and Troyan are coming from the Kharkiv region and have known each other at least since 2009-2010, when Avakov was still a governor of the Kharkiv region. In Kharkiv, the PU was involved in questionable activities, ranging from attacks on Vietnamese merchants to seizures of businesses. In 2010, the PU activists headed by Troyan seized four dozens of news stalls in Kharkiv in favour of, according to the media reports, a company of Andriy Liphans’ky. The latter was a business partner of Avakov and headed the board of media and information of the Kharkiv region during Avakov’s governance. Media reports also suggested that Liphans’ky rented a gym for training of the PU activists. In their turn, the PU activists provided security for the Kharkiv protests of the Bloc of Yuliya Tymoshenko (BYuT) – at that time Avakov headed that the regional office of the BYuT. Furthermore, a leader of the Kharkiv football hooligans who was close to the PU took part in Avakov’s mayoral campaign in 2010.Why does the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior promote the leaders of the neo-Nazi organisation? Its ideology can hardly explain these developments, as neither Avakov nor Herashchenko is a neo-Nazi. The explanation seems to lie in the past and has to do with a sinister legacy of cronyism.

Today’s involvement of the PU leaders in Ukrainian police seems to be driven by Avakov’s trust in the organisation that he worked with in the past. Avakov also seems to believe in the personal loyalty of the PU-led Azov battalion and may use them as his “private army” for business or political reasons.

Andriy Biletskyi and Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov, 2014
Andriy Biletskyi and Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov, 2014

The problematic relationship between the Ministry of Inferior and the neo-Nazis is undermining the credibility of the newly formed Ukrainian government internationally and domestically.

It was most likely Avakov who suggested to Poroshenko to grant Ukrainian citizenship to Belarusian fighter of the Azov battalion Sergey Korotkikh who had been involved in the neo-Nazi movements in Belarus and Russia since the late 1990s. It is highly unlikely that Avakov mentioned to Poroshenko the background of a new Ukrainian citizen.

Moreover, under Avakov, the police in Kyiv have already proved unable or unwilling to investigate a number of hate crimes. In July, far right thugs – not necessarily associated with the PU – attacked four black people in the underground, a gay club and a Jewish student by a synagogue. The police initiated two criminal cases, but nobody has been prosecuted so far. In September, the head of the Visual Culture Research Centre Vasyl Cherepanyn was beaten apparently by far right activists, but the police failed to investigate the attack too.

It seems viable to suggest that, under Troyan as head of the Kyiv region police, investigations into hate crimes will hardly be efficient, while the persistent traditions of cronyism will unlikely contribute to the building of a strong democracy