Nine hours of drill every day. After the forest run and a meager breakfast, the young men crawl through mud holes, the combat knife in their fists. Again and again pull-ups and push-ups in the dirt. Some recruits groan and swear loudly – in German, Polish and Finnish. In between a glass of tea, hastily smoked cigarettes. A participant filmed such scenes.
The instructor of the young men, formerly the leader of a Russian special unit to fight Chechen rebels, roars loud commands. The next station is the shooting range – a little later the AK-47, Kalashnikov-type assault rifles, start crackling. The day in the “Partizan” training camp, strictly sealed off and guarded in the east of the Russian city of St. Petersburg, ends with boxing and exercises in a knife fight.
Neo-Nazis can be ground “for the final fight”
“Partizan” – these eight letters stand for greatest exertion. Not for soldiers, but for right-wing extremists. In the Russian camp, neo-Nazis can be ground from all over Europe. “For the final fight,” as they call it.
The secret camp has been an attraction for the ultra-right scene since 2014. It is operated by the right-wing extremist “Russian Reich Movement”. The organization wants to ensure the “predominance of the white race” – with military means, as Nathan Alexander Sales, the highest anti-terrorism coordinator of the US government, reports.
For the neo-Nazis, “Partizan” is what PLO camps were for the murderous terrorist organization RAF in the 1970s. Are the Nazis similarly dangerous? In any case, radical ideology pairs with gun violence and becomes a dangerous cocktail for democratic societies.
Most of the Germans there come from Saxony
Germans are also among those who learn their terrorist craft in St. Petersburg. Of all places in the city – until 1991 it was called Leningrad – which had been besieged by the German Wehrmacht from September 1941 to January 1944. More than a million Russian civilians were killed or starved.
Most German young partisans, possibly grandchildren of soldiers from Hitler’s Army Group North, have come from the Free State of Saxony in recent years: from Riesa, Plauen and Chemnitz. Some of them are members of the Junge Nationalisten (JN), the youth organization of the right-wing extremist NPD.
Close relations between Russia and German rights
Russia’s right-wing scene has had close ties to Germany for years and has established a tight network of links across Europe. A delegation of Russian racists took part in the 3rd European Congress in Riesa, Saxony, in mid-May 2018 at the invitation of the JN. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution counted almost 500 participants at the two-day event, who intoxicated themselves with fascist ideas – including comrades from Serbia, Poland and Spain. The meeting point was the company premises of the “German Voice” magazine.
US agents spying on the “Partizan” camp also wanted members of another German guerrilla training group to be located in St. Petersburg. The intelligence notes point to the right-wing extremist party “Der III. Way ”, especially based on the Third Reich. Founded in 2013 by a former NPD official, the Plauen force with 500 members is under surveillance by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
Is “III Way” training in Russia?
At the recent Corona demonstrations, “The III. Weg “strongly: The German people are ready for civil disobedience. In German cities there were Germans who wanted to finish with the system, trumpeted “The III. Path”. Propaganda in the spirit of Russia.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has been informed of the activities of the neo-Nazis in Vladimir Putin’s empire – through partner services such as the US CIA. But the constitutional protectors have so far hardly been active. Legally there are virtually no possibilities to prevent trips to training camps like the “Partizan” near St. Petersburg.
USA put the group on the terrorist list
It is unclear how much Putin’s support for such training camps is. “Of course, the Russian President knows these facilities,” says a senior official of the federal government. “We don’t know whether he will support them financially. At least he tolerates them. “
German authorities have spoken to the liaison officers of the Russian domestic secret service FSB several times about the training camps for sabotage. “You listened to that. But nothing happened, ”the German constitutional activist states soberly.
The United States strikes much harder notes than the neo-Nazis. “The ‘Russian Reich Movement’ has the blood of innocents on its hands,” criticized anti-terrorist coordinator Sales in Washington two months ago. What is meant are men who, after paramilitary training in the “Partizan” camp, support Putin’s militias in eastern Ukraine.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, formerly director of the CIA, said the group and its associates were extremely dangerous. On April 6, he placed the “Russian Reich Movement”, which dreams of the rule of a new authoritarian tsarist empire and which only had a slightly modified swastika in its writings, on the US list of global terror groups. It is on par with Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas – and is being closely monitored accordingly.
Russian ex-officers conduct training
Old right-wing structures from the GDR era help Russian right-wing extremists to recruit young people in Germany. After the fall of the wall, there were still tens of thousands of Russian soldiers in East Germany. They trained Russian martial arts in newly founded private sports schools. It is in these clubs that the first contacts are often made today.
In the sports schools, for example, the melee techniques from Systema and Sambo are offered, sometimes taught by ex-officers from the Russian military secret service GRU. Elite units of the Russian army train punches and kicks from the Systema textbook, Sambo is a rapid mix of wrestling and judo. Also “The III. Weg ”, especially the“ Body and Mind ”working group, appreciates the bone breaker system.
Blows to kill
Both martial arts systems play a major role in the “Partizan” training program. The sport is not taught, but the military side. In partisan training, you learn which blow to the larynx can be used to kill a potential enemy. Dangerous neck levers, prohibited in competition, are also part of the program.
There are no signs for the training camp in the historic port city of St. Petersburg. German nationalists and other interested parties are mostly picked up at the train station. The head of the imperial movement has a cover address on Uliza Drezdenskaya – officially a company for transport, real estate and building materials resides here.
Swedish assassins were previously in the “Partizan” camp
With two terrorist attacks in Gothenburg in 2016, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Intelligence Service received information for the first time that German neo-Nazis are training in a Russian training camp.
The two Swedes Anton Thulin, 26, and Viktor Melin, 23, had carried out explosive attacks on facilities for asylum seekers after returning from the Petersburg camp. The Swedish secret service Säpo was able to prove that both accused extremists had stayed in the “Partizan” camp for eleven days. They were sentenced to eight and a half and one and a half years in prison.
The Federal Republic’s intelligence services were particularly grateful for a process detail that did not appear in any newspaper at the time. At the end of the extensive taking of evidence, Mats Ljungqvist, the district attorney general, found that German Nazis were also in the “Partizan” camp.
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