Saturday

22nd Sep 2018

Anti-migrant militias spring up in central Europe

  • Prague: Authorities feared repeat of Chemnitz-type unrest (Photo: Chris Waits)

Czech and Slovenian authorities have voiced alarm over the emergence of armed anti-migrant militias in the two central European countries.

The concerns come after revelations of a paramilitary base, with tanks and armoured personnel carriers, used by a biker gang with Kremlin ties in Slovakia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Czech intelligence service, the BIS, voiced its worries about a group that calls itself the National Home Guard in a classified report seen by Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes.

"Parts of this group have begun to adopt the concept of armed groups. Due to the fact that some of the members are strongly xenophobic, racist, and completely reject the orientations of Czech internal and foreign policy, they could pose a significant [security] risk," the BIS report said.

The home guard groups, which have up to 2,500 members in 90 national branches, patrol the streets of some small Czech towns, such as Nymburk, 50km west of Prague, looking for irregular migrants.

They appear to have links with local police and have political support from National Democracy, a fringe far-right party.

They also have ideological leaders, such as David Buchtel, a Czech academic and National Democracy member, who publishes leaflets saying that Nato plans to "occupy" the Czech Republic and force it to take in migrants.

The Czech foreign ministry has said the groups posed a risk of violent protests, such as in the recent anti-migrant riots in the town of Chemnitz, Germany.

Andor Sandor, the former chief of Czech military intelligence, the VZ, told Radio Prague, that even if it does not come to that, their day-to-day activities posed a threat to the Czech political landscape.

"This could stem from the view, that the European Union is not able to manage the migration crisis. People who believe that neither the state nor Europe can manage this [migration], will take matters into their own hands to protect their families and their property," he said.

The Czech worries surfaced a few days after a social media stunt by Andrej Sisko, a far-right politician, which caused alarm in Slovenia.

Sisko posted a Facebook video of himself with a group of some 70 masked men armed with machine guns in the Slovenian countryside.

The group, called the Stajerska Guard, was filmed taking an oath to secure public order in the country. It numbers several hundred people in total, the Reuters news agency said.

"We are doing nothing wrong and we would be even interested in co-operating with the police," Sisko said, in an echo of the Czech home guard's modus operandi.

His political party, the anti-migrant United Slovenia Movement, has also vowed to protect the county's ethnic identity.

Borut Pahor, the Slovenian president, said: "Slovenia is a safe country in which no unauthorised person needs or is allowed to ... illegally care for the security of the country and its borders".

The creation of the Stajerska Guard was "absolutely unacceptable" and it "needlessly stirs up fear and spreads hatred", outgoing Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar said.

Earlier in July, Slovakia was also put an alert when journalists filmed a paramilitary compound in Dolna Krupa, a town some 50km north of Bratislava.

The base, a former pig farm, is used by the Night Wolves, a biker gang, and by two far-right militias called the Slovak Levies and NV Europa, the BBC reported at the time.

It contained a shooting range and tanks and armoured personnel carriers that had been supplied by a military vehicle museum.

The revelations were "disturbing" and the groups' influence was "harmful, especially in spreading their opinions that strive to rewrite history", a Slovak foreign ministry spokesman said.

The Night Wolves gang has well known links to the Kremlin.

The other paramilitary groups and their political supporters also repeat Russian propaganda lines on migrants and EU failures, but neither the Czech or Slovene authorities spoke of Russian involvement in their activities.

The notion of a 'migrant invasion' in central Europe is not borne out by facts.

The Czech Republic took in 12 migrants from Greece and Italy under an EU scheme and granted asylum to just 145 people last year.

Slovenia granted asylum to 152 people last year.

Slovakia has boycotted the EU scheme, along with Hungary and Poland, and had just 56 applications for asylum as of June this year.

But the Czech intelligence assessment that the home guard group "completely [rejected] the orientations of Czech internal and foreign policy," was also open to question.

Czech prime minister Andrej Babis has vowed to join an anti-migrant political axis in Europe alongside Hungary and Italy's far-right leaders.

Meanwhile, anti-migrant rhetoric by leading politicians has become a mainstay in Slovakia and Slovenia, where the far-right Slovenian Democratic Party became the biggest one in June elections, but failed to find coalition partners to form a government.

Investigation

Fight club: Russian spies seek EU recruits

Russian intelligence services are using martial arts clubs to recruit potential troublemakers in Germany and other EU countries, security experts have warned.

Opinion

Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism

One year to the day since the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, the commissioner for home affairs spells out what action the EU is taking now to protect against further attacks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us