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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: June 24, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Links Found Between White Supremacist Shooter in Charleston and Russian Nationalists; Web Site Registered in Russia
6 years
Ex-Troll Farm Employee Wins Her Case in St. Petersburg
Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed 9 black church-goers in Charleston, South Carolina, has "two degrees" of separation from Russian nationalists, via American extremists who attended the International Conservative Forum in St. Petersburg.

Roof's racist manifesto has been found online, which ties him to the Conservative Council, whose leader, Jared Taylor, attended the Russian forum, along with a member, Sam Dickson.

At the time, The Interpreter's syndicated columnists Anton Shekhovtsev and Paul Goble covered the gathering of Europe's far-right and Russian counterparts, which included these Americans. See their work below:

Russia Hosting Europe’s Neo-Nazis, Nationalists and Anti-Semites, Putin Supporters All

The Far-Right “International Russian Conservative Forum” to Take Place in Russia

What Does the Fascist Conference in St. Petersburg Tell Us About Contemporary Russia?

Max Seddon has published an article in Buzzfeed exposing the link, which had been noted by Twitter users earlier in a discussion with journalist Adrian Chen.

Jared Taylor, who has appeared in the media representing the Council of Conservative Citizens in the days following the shooting, spoke at the Russian Conservative Forum in St. Petersburg in March, where they railed against the “alien traditions” of non-white people. Sam Dickson, a member of the group and lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan, also attended the conference.

“The religion of the U.S. is no longer Christianity, it is diversity,” Taylor said at the forum. “We are to believe this crazy idea that the wild mix of language, religion, people, and races that that is a great and wonderful thing. In effect the United States is committing suicide.”

A manifesto apparently written by Dylann Roof, the suspect arrested in the June 17 shooting of nine people in Charleston, cited the Council of Conservative Citizens’ website about “black-on-white crime” as a turning point in his decision to “take it to the real world.”

In interviews, Taylor has condemned the shooting, but broadly agreed with the racist views expressed in the manifesto. Republican politicians have come under fire in recent days for their ties to the group.

Chen discovered that Roof's website, which showed pictures of him with the Rhodesian flag promoted by white supremacists, was registered in Russia and Ukraine.

Twitter users then speculated as to why an American racist would buy a host in Russia, as it seems counterintuitive given how much the Russian government censors the Internet. The reality is that such censorship is uneven and selective.
Yet Russian authorities didn't take it down all this time.

As we reported, the St. Petersburg forum did not include some of the most infamous ultranationalists such as Aleksandr Dugin, a zealous supporter of Russia's war on Ukraine, who was dismissed from Moscow State University last year after he published a number of incendiary posts calling for the killing of Ukrainians.

And technically, the forum was not run by the Russian government, but convened by the Rodina [Motherland] party, which was once led by Dmitry Rogozin, the hard-line vice premier for defense and space programs and former Russian envoy to NATO. Rogozin left the party in 2006, and later it merged into Just Russia, but then was reinstated in 2012 under the leadership of Aleksei Zhuravlyov.

But those with actual Kremlin support were present, such as a researcher from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI), run by Reshetnikov, a former KGB official. And there were other pro-Kremlin figures believed to have covert Russian support such as Aleksei Milchakov, a notorious sadist and leader of the Rusich Battalion, which is fighting alongside the Russian-backed separatists in southeast Ukraine, and which has now established a base in a former school campus in Razdolnoye, Ukraine as we reported.

Milchakov has posted pictures of himself with the far-right leaders at the St. Petersburg conference on his account on the Russian social network VKontakte (VK), in which he openly described establishing contact with the European far right, including Greece's Golden Dawn, Germany's NPD, Italy's Forza Nova, and Sweden's Nord Front.




From all indications, Dylann Roof is a home-grown radical, although he is often described as having been "radicalized online." The Council of Conservative Citizens is busy distancing themselves from Roof. They do not appear to be behind his website, although they share similar views, and they claim their association with the Russian conservatives is weak. As Taylor told Seddon:

Taylor and Dickson told BuzzFeed News at the time that they were surprised by their invitation to the conference, whose ideological purview fell outside their campaign for an all-white America. “We don’t understand why we’re here,” Taylor said. “It’s a very strange lineup.” Though organizers’ refusal to tell them who else would be speaking in advance made them suspicious, they decided to go on the trip anyway.

Yet Taylor also organized a similar event in Budapest last year which was banned by Hungarian President Victor Orban; the Russian ultranationalist Dugin was unable to get a visa.

These stories are indicative of the support that the Russian government is giving in direct and indirect form to the European and American far-right, but just as with the violent ultranationalists from the BORN [Battle Organization of Russian Nationalists] group now on trial in Russia, who claim they were supported by Kremlin officials, no direct connection can be found between the Kremlin and violent racist attacks abroad such as what just occurred in Charleston. Even so, questions should be raised about the funding of these trips and conferences and why the hate website registered in Russia was not taken down by the usually-zealous Russian censors.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick