US slaps sanctions on Russian, Swedish far-right extremists

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The United States on Wednesday slapped sanctions on white nationalists from Russia and Sweden, warning they posed a threat and that one raised funds for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

After decades focused on Islamist extremism, the United States has increasingly identified a threat from the far right, classifying in 2020 the Russian Imperial Movement as a terrorist organization, the first such action against a white supremacist group.

The State Department on Wednesday designated as a terrorist Anton Thulin, a Swede who allegedly traveled to Saint Petersburg for paramilitary instruction by the Russian group.

He was sentenced to prison in 2017 for setting off a bomb near a refugee center in Sweden and, after his release, was expelled by Poland, where authorities said he was seeking further training.

"The US government remains deeply concerned about the evolving racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist threat worldwide," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

"An element of it entails violent white supremacists traveling internationally to train and fight with likeminded individuals."

The Treasury Department also blocked any US assets and criminalized financial transactions with two members of the Russian Imperial Movement, identified as Stanislav Shevchuk and Alexander Zhuchkovsky.

Shevchuk has traveled to the United States and Europe to unite far-right extremists, while Zhuchkovsky has used social media and online payment systems to buy military supplies for Russian troops in Ukraine, the Treasury Department said.

The Russian group denounced the US terrorist designation in 2020, insisting that it was only helping volunteers fighting on behalf of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Canada earlier this year followed suit by banning the Russian Imperial Movement as a terrorist organization along with the Proud Boys, a far-right group involved in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

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