The ‘awakening’: American right-wing extremist finds allies in the Balkans


Rundo first confirmed his presence in Belgrade in February 2020, in a blog that hailed “the awakening of the Serbian spirit” at rallies in the city calling for a boycott of that year’s parliamentary elections.

Writing about meeting members of a nationalist group called “Kormilo”, which means Rudder, Rundo said he received “the uncensored history of Serbia and was told about the revival of Chetnik sentiment”, a reference to the Serbian Chetnik nationalist movement of the World War. Of them.

“The events unfolding in Serbia are new but it is easy to see how this can be a flame that rekindles the proud nationalist sentiment in Serbian youth as I saw it that night,” Rundo wrote.

Adrian Shtuni, a Washington-based foreign and security policy expert, said Rundo sees himself as the leader of a movement that is not limited to one nation.

Rundo knows how to “use Serbian ultranationalist sentiments and link racist ideology with ethnic ultranationalism,” Shtuni told BIRN.

He said it was “not surprising” that Rundo connected with like-minded people in Serbia, as a hospitable environment for his beliefs and a good place to stay under the radar.

“Rundo could still face serious federal riot charges and jail time in the United States,” Shtuni said, referring to violent attacks carried out by RAM members at rallies in California in 2017. “In the meantime, his base of collaborators and supporters in Serbia enables his operations.

The case against Rundo was initially dismissed by a California judge in 2019 and he headed to Europe. But prosecutors have not yet given up on bringing him to justice.

In February 2020, Rundo surfaced in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, where he attended the Day of Honor events in which far-right and neo-Nazi groups pay tribute to Nazi forces that broke out of Budapest surrounded by Russia at the end of World War II. . According to ADL, it was here that Rundo was introduced to Serbian band Kormilo.

Kormilo denied being present. “Therefore, we didn’t meet anyone there, not even Robert,” the group told BIRN.

The members of Kormilo, however, attended at least two events where Rundo was also present. One of them was a humanitarian event organized by Junak Fondacija in July 2020 in the village of Bogojevo, in the municipality of Odzaci, in northwestern Serbia.

Grmusa of Junak Fondacija said he met Rundo but they didn’t talk much. A banner at the event read “Free RAM – Freedom for all nationalists”.

“A banner supporting his organization was displayed at the time, so I asked a friend of his who he was. He explained to me who he was and what it meant. That’s it,” Grmusa said. “What can I say other than okay. That’s how it is.”

Shtuni said Rundo was using ultra-nationalist sentiment among Serbs.

“For example, at a rally organized by local ultra-nationalist groups, he was seen using the Serbian ‘three-fingered salute’ next to demonstrators displaying the symbols of controversial white supremacist and ethnic groups. extreme right,” Shtuni said.

In email exchanges with BIRN earlier this year, Rundo said he was in Bulgaria; it was at the time of the Lukov March, a torchlight procession in Sofia in honor of a World War II Bulgarian general who led the Nazi-aligned Union of Bulgarian National Legions. Rundo attended the event in 2020.

BIRN was unable to independently confirm Rundo’s presence in Bulgaria; he did not travel to Sarajevo for the meeting agreed with BIRN in February, later claiming that he had been refused entry to Bosnia. Bosnian border police, citing personal data protection, refused to confirm whether they had in fact refused him entry, unlike last year when they confirmed he had entered Bosnia.

While in eastern Bosnia, in the predominantly populated entity of Republika Srpska, Rundo was visited by a friend who says he is a former US Marine and has a Twitter account under the nickname Luke. . BIRN was unable to confirm the identity of the friend.

“I was kicked out of the military for being associated with Rundo,” Luke tweeted on December 11 last year, claiming the FBI approached him at his home and he was banned from traveling in the Schengen zone in Europe.

The US Marine Corp declined to comment for this story; the FBI did not respond to BIRN’s questions.

Describing himself as an Orthodox believer, Luke told BIRN he made a “religious pilgrimage” when he visited Rundo in Republika Srpska, a predominantly Bosnian Serb entity. He also visited Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania. Although Croatia is in the EU, it is not yet part of the Schengen zone.

Luke said he was kicked out of the Marines for his writings questioning neoliberalism.

“Note that I don’t have a criminal record, no discipline problem at school, I don’t even have a parking ticket. I did very well in the marines, they kicked me out for really political reasons,” he said. Luke previously tweeted that he was deported over links to right-wing extremism.

Luke also traveled to Belgrade, taking part in a rally organized by People’s Patrol, a far-right organization that began as a vigilante group targeting migrants and refugees traveling through Serbia en route to Europe. western, but later took up the anti-vaccination cause during COVID-19. pandemic.

A photo of Luke talking to People’s Patrol’s Damnjan Knezevic was posted by a platform called Media2Rise page with the caption “M2R at protest, Belgrade, Serbia”.

Media2Rise is a media platform created and managed by Rundo and members of RAM. They say the project offers a voice to the censored. He has posted content regarding far-right protests in the United States and Poland.

Luke, who is tagged as a member of the Rundo team in the photographs, visited Klub 451, a far-right bar in Belgrade, during his trip to Serbia. A photo caption says he met “the nationalists of Serbia” at the club.

“Support from Serbia”


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