UPDATE – US labels Russian white supremacist group 'terrorist'

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By Beyza Binnur Donmez

ANKARA (AA) – The U.S. designated Monday a Russian ultra-nationalist group Russian Imperial Movement as a terrorist organization.

"This is the first time the United States has ever designated white supremacist terrorists, illustrating how seriously this administration takes the threat," State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, Nathan Sales, said in a press briefing. "We are taking actions no previous administration has taken to counter this threat."

The U.S. also named three individuals believed to be the group's leaders — Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev, Denis Valliullovich Gariev and Nikolay Nikolayevich Trushchalov — as terrorists.

Sales said the group has two training facilities in St. Petersburg and provides paramilitary-style training to neo-Nazis.

"It plays a prominent role in trying to rally like-minded Europeans and Americans into a common front against their perceived enemies," he added.

The official also accused the group of giving paramilitary-style training to two Swedish men in 2016 who later carried out terrorist attacks in the second-largest city of Sweden, Gothenburg, including a bomb attack outside a cafe and a migrant center.

"This group has innocent blood on its hands," Sales added.

He said these designations are just one part of the Trump administration's broader efforts to counter white supremacist terrorism abroad.

"We’re bringing all of our counterterrorism tools to this fight – information sharing, counter-messaging, combating terrorist travel, engaging with tech companies, and building partner capacity to protect soft targets like synagogues and mosques," the official added.

Under the designation, Treasury Department seizes any assets the group has in the U.S., prohibits Americans doing business with it and prevents members of the group from traveling to the U.S.

The white supremacism became a concern worldwide after an Australian white supremacist killed 51 worshippers in 2019 at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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