Neo-Nazis on the march calling for ‘Nationalism in place of Globalization’
Despite a fall in numbers compared to the 1990s, extreme right-wing movements in the Czech Republic are becoming more discreet and sophisticated and widening their range of targets, a report commissioned by the Czech Ministry of Interior says, warning that neo-Nazis and other groups may resort to terrorism.
According to the 50-odd page report authored by political scientist Miroslav Mareš and several contributors, a rise in racially motivated attacks can be expected over the next five years. While the ethnic Romany population will continue to be the target of violence, the report says far-right groups are increasingly focusing their attention to resistance to multiculturalism and immigration to the Czech Republic.
“Calls to form home defense units (which came from the [banned] Workers Party) against Vietnamese present a risk because they could lead to an escalation in ethnic violence,” the report published on Thursday states.
Mareš says in the report an increase in violent attacks can be expected due to: worsening economic conditions; increasing social exclusion; mainstream political failure by extreme right-wing parties; and the influence of foreign white supremacist groups.
There are currently around 4,000 extreme right-wing activists in the Czech Republic, the report says, with an especially active core of around 400 leaders and ideologists. The core of the movement is now formed by the free nationalist and autonomous nationalist movements, which operate in coordinated regional cells as opposed to adhering to a national leadership, the report says.
‘The Russian way’ of terrorim
“Within the neo-Nazi scene, which is attempting to work out courses of action, terrorist concepts influenced in part from Russia (the so-called ‘Russian Way’), are being propagated,” the report states. It notes that numerous Russian judges who have sentenced neo-Nazi activists have been attacked — and several murdered (though no right-wing militants have been convicted for the homicides). ‘[T]errorist concepts influenced in part from Russia (the so-called ‘Russian Way’), are being propagated. ... It’s necessary to monitor whether the Czech neo-Nazi scene will adopt similar tactics in reaction to a wave of controversial trials.’
“It’s necessary to monitor whether the Czech neo-Nazi scene will adopt similar tactics in reaction to a wave of controversial trials,” the report’s author recommends, pointing out that the Czech far-right movement has close ties with similar organizations in Russia.
The Ministry of Interior last year published an instructional booklet intended primarily for police chiefs under the title Extremism as a Security Threat warning of right-wing extremists infiltrating police ranks. The new report likewise warns that Neo-Nazi activists are drawn to the police force: “We can expect more conspiracies in this area than there have been before.”
Similarly, right-wing extremists are attracted to employment with private security firms, which is a way for them to get firearms licenses. Mareš also draws attention to potential problems arising from the increasing use of private security firms in conflict zones, warning that some extremists have gained conflict or combat experience in this way.
Mareš and his colleagues also warn that some core members of extreme right-wing movements are attempting to influence public life, primarily on the local rather than national level. They do so by infiltrating mainstream politics by joining the major political parties, gaining positions in public organs other than the police, where “for the time being they covertly act in the interests of their ideological orientation.”
Change of image
Czech extreme-right wing organizations are turning away from the skinhead image, which was widely adopted by its activists and sympathizers in the Czech Republic in the 1990s. As well as the changing tastes of the younger generation of right-wing extremists, many of the activists prefer not to wear the politics on their sleeves, so to speak. “The neo-Nazi scene is not as visible as in 2008, but the number of activists remains the same,” the report says.
Further, it warns that in response to a shift in ideological outlook — and with their perceived war on multi-culturalism in Europe and protecting European traditions — neo-Nazi groups will likely try to recruit sympathizers and active supporters by exploiting populist issues and opposition by conservatives and traditionalists to “liberal” tendencies such as same-sex marriages, as well as some stereotypical perceptions. ‘Today they manage to blend in with larger mass protests as was the case in the Šluknov district last year, where it was very difficult to tell who belonged to the neo-Nazi scene, and who were ordinary citizens.’
“Today they manage to blend in with larger mass protests as was the case in the Šluknov district last year, where it was very difficult to tell who belonged to the neo-Nazi scene, and who were ‘ordinary citizens,’” the report says, referring to the large protests against a wave of attacks and a rise in crime in the northern Bohemian district last fall, which many local residents attributed exclusively to the growing Romany population.
The report also notes the influence of the Italian neo-Fascist movement Casapound, which spurns identification with the traditional image of the far-right and presents itself as a mainstream political movement beyond the confines of traditional left- and right-wing politics — although the party is openly anti-immigration.
“Professionalism is a key characteristic off the neo-Nazi movement of the new millennium. In the case of Casapound, there is a managerial leadership and managers are groomed for specific activities,” the report says, adding that the movement makes a point of appealing to university students.
“A part of the Czech neo-Nazi scene views Casapound positively precisely because the movement has managed to penetrate into everyday public life. ... they view the concept positively because they themselves are attempting to find a form more acceptable to society, thus the collections for dog kennels, cleaning refuse from woods and forests, help in the wake of floods, etc.,” the report states.
Mareš and colleagues say the best way to combat far-right extremism in the long-term is through educational programs. Also in cases where school pupils have become involved in extremist groups, patient persuasion as opposed to in-school punishments such as suspension or detention are far more effective, they conclude.
The Czech Ministry of Interior has published a number of documents in English about the ministry’s “Fight against Extremism,” which are available here.