The Treasury under Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday blacklisted three men accused of being members of the Russian Imperial Movement. File Photo by Graeme Jennings/UPI | License Photo
June 15 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Wednesday targeted a Russia-based White supremacist group by blacklisting three of its supporters, including a man who has raised millions of dollars to arm pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine's Donbas region.
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Alexander Zhuchkovsky and Stanislav Shevchuk, two men it described as "key supporters of the ethnically motivated Extremist group known as the Russian Imperial Movement."
The U.S. State Department listed RIM and its leadership as Specially Designated Global Terrorists on April 6, 2020, accusing the group of providing paramilitary-style training to White supremacists and neo-Nazis in Europe from its St. Petersburg facilities.
It was the first time that the State Department designated a White supremacist group.
On Thursday, the Treasury said Zhuchkovsky is a Russia-based supporter of RIM and has raised more than $3.5 million since 2014 to purchase weapons and military equipment for RIM and other pro-Moscow fighters in the Russia-backed separatist-controlled Ukrainian region of Donbas, which is currently the focus of Russia's war in the eastern European country.
Kremlin forces are seeking to capture Luhansk and Donetsk where Russian-aligned groups established separatist republics. Days before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized Luhansk and Donetsk as independent.
The Treasury said the funds Zhuchkovsky raised also facilitated the travel of RIM fighters to Donbas and since the war began he has supported the Russian effort by purchasing military equipment and supplies for fighters involved in the invasion of Ukraine and fighting in the Donbas.
Meanwhile, Shevchuk was sanctioned Thursday for being a Europe-based RIM representative who traveled to the United States in 2017 to establish ties with U.S. far-right and White nationalist groups. He has also spoken on behalf of RIM at rallies in Europe.
Brian Nelson, under secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, accused RIM of seeking to build a global network of violent groups to subvert democratic processes as well as worsening the conflict in Ukraine through its fundraising.
The sanctions freeze all U.S.-based assets in their names and bars U.S. citizens from doing business with them.
"We will continue to identify opportunities to disrupt networks of racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists who seek to train, fundraise or recruit across borders and prevent the international financial system from becoming an incubator of violent extremist activity," he said in a statement.
In a coordinated move, the State Department on Thursday also designated Anton Thulin, a Swedish citizen, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, on accusations of "posing a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism."
Ned Price, State Department spokesman, said in a statement that Thulin traveled in 2016 to St. Petersburg where he received paramilitary training from RIM.
The next year, he was sentenced by a Swedish court to 22 months in prison on charges connected to an attempted bombing of a refugee residential center in Gothenburg. He is also accused of seeking further paramilitary training in Poland following his release.