Russian Imperial Movement linked to terror campaign in Europe

An intelligence expert says a recent letter bomb campaign in Europe has been credibly linked back to Russia and its proxies.
Posted at 9:15 PM, Feb 09, 2023

Intelligence expert Colin Clarke says nearly one year into the war in Ukraine, as Russia's campaign stalls, it is turning to White supremacists and neo-Nazis to launch a new terror campaign across Europe, targeting allies and supporters of Ukraine. 

Clarke has been warning for months that Russian defeats on the battlefield could lead to new terrorism aimed at destabilizing Ukraine's allies.

Now, Clarke says a recent letter bomb campaign — including against the U.S. Embassy in Spain — has been credibly linked back to Russia and its proxies. 

"Once the U.S. Embassy in Madrid was attacked, it allowed the U.S. intelligence community greater authorities to collect on what exactly was happening," Clarke said.

"Although the letter bombing campaign failed to kill anyone, it did injure several people. And more than that, I think symbolically it's proof of concept to show what the Russians can do, through proxy forces, to destabilize European countries at will."

Clarke says investigators have zeroed in on the Russian Imperial Movement, known as RIM. It is the only White supremacist organization the State Department designated as terrorists, and now it is being linked  to the letter bombs. 

Scripps News has been reporting on the shadowy extremist organization for years. 

A State Department official would not comment on the link to RIM, or the ongoing investigation. But the official confirmed  that U.S. and Ukrainian Embassies in Spain received letter bombs late last year. Spanish officials arrested a 74-year old man in connection with the bombings.

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced its first sanctions against White supremacists.


In 2021, before Russia invaded Ukraine, RIM’s leader told Scripps News' Mark Greenblatt in an exclusive interview his group continued to operate a paramilitary training camp from St. Petersburg, Russia, that provided weapons and explosives training to anyone who wanted to learn, including known extremists. 

SCRIPPS NEWS' MARK GREENBLATT: How much would it cost me to go through your training?  

STANISLAV VOROBYEV: In our case, it is 500 dollars.. 

GREENBLATT: What would I learn, if I came?  

VOROBYEV: You will learn how to shoot using a firearm. You will go to the shooting range to undergo firearm training. Medical training is also part of the course, as well as tactical training. 

U.S. officials listed Stanislav Vorobyev by name as a specially designated global terrorist — separate from his group.     

When he spoke with Scripps News, he confirmed RIM had sympathizers in Spain, and was having success making friends in other parts of  the world including the U.S. 

VOROBYEV: We are currently gathering like-minded people from around the world, including America, Australia, New Zealand.

"I'm definitely concerned about what the Russians could do on U.S. soil," Clarke said. "We've got longstanding links between our own far-right groups and those that receive propaganda support and potentially even financial support."

RIM has denied sending the letter bombs, saying "terror is not our style... Our organization is political and does not deal with intelligence or terror."

But just last week on its social media channels RIM called for a fresh new round of recruits to join its military wing.

For a deep dive into what's motivating the Russian Imperial Movement, you can hear more of Mark’s reporting in a one-hour special that’s airing on NPR affiliates nationwide this week, in the show “Reveal”.   Scripps News partnered with  Reveal on this week's episode, which you can also find by downloading through any app you use to listen to podcasts.