Right Wing Group Profiles: Slovakia
As in many other countries of Europe today, the right-wing extremist scene of Slovakia has seen substantial growth in popularity; coupling domestic social problems with external factors such as the conflict in Ukraine, the migrant crisis, a growing trend of Euroscepticism among others has made many people turn to radical political parties promising easy, although generally inapplicable solutions.
The Slovak right-wing extremist scene started forming shortly after the country's independence in 1993. Currently, it is the dominant form of political extremism in the country with other political movements being deeply marginalised and under-represented.
In general, the scene is dominated by two right-wing ideologies: neo-Nazism (either invoking general neo-Nazi themes of racial supremacy, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, or revering Slovakia-specific Nazism, i.e. pertaining to the country's WWII history of the so-called Slovak State (a clerical-fascist Nazi German satellite state) and its president, Catholic priest Jozef Tiso; the ideology here is based on anti-Semitism, anti-Romani sentiments, chauvinism, etc.) and nationalism (either simply Slovak nationalism of various intensities, or pan-Slavic sentiments that call for abandoning of the Western orientation of the country in favour of a more East-oriented policies, often being drastically pro-Russian). These ideologies often mix in specific groups and may vary among individual members of the groups.
Furthermore, the Slovak right-wing scene can also be classified by the position of the groups in relation to the current political system and the groups' character.
There are 4 broader clusters:
Registered, systemic parties represented by the largest actor, a nationalistic/neo-Nazi party Äudova¡ Strana Naa¡e Slovensko (ÄSNS; People's Party Our Slovakia) and recently also by nationalistic Sloven
These include registered, but less political entities, such as nationalistic, anti-Nazi but pro-Russian paramilitary group Slovenska branci (SB; Slovak Recruits) and nationalistic, pro-Russian Asocia¡cia slovenskach vojakov (ASV; Association of Slovak Soldiers) composed of professional soldiers of the Slovak Armed Forces.
Unregistered groups bordering on illegality the main representative being a neo-Nazi paramilitary movement Vzdor Kysuce (VK; Resistance Kysuce)football hooligans and rowdies.
However, as not all of those clusters represent an equally large security threat, this report will focus only on the largest, most coordinated and most dangerous of them.
While there were attempts to unite separate elements of the extremist scene, internal ambitions, different political strategies and personal conflicts among their leaders made this impossible; currently, the scene is fragmented along ideological and systemic lines as mentioned above.
Ľudová strana Naše Slovensko (People's Party Our Slovakia; LSNS) is a far-right, neo-Nazi political party led by Marian Kotleba, a central figure of the Slovak right-wing scene.
Established in 2011, LSNS is Kotleba's second political party, as its predecessor, Slovenská Pospolitost (Slovak Togetherness; SP) was dissolved in 2006 by the Supreme Court when its activities were found anti-constitutional. Although headquartered in the BanskÃ¡ Bystrica region (where Kotleba is the governor of the region), the party maintains several regional bureaus and has grown from a marginal party to a parliamentary one, winning 10% of the parliament seats in the 2016 elections (gaining 8.04% of all votes).
IDEOLOGY: Neo-Nazism, Slovak nationalism, anti-Semitism, anti-immigration, anti-Romani stances. Opposes membership in the EU and NATO. Glorifies the war-time cleric-fascist Slovak State (1939-1945) and its president, Jozef Tiso and propagates xenophobia. The party is strongly against liberal democracy, globalism and West-oriented foreign policy.
GOALS: taking control of the current liberal-democratic political system and installing an authoritarian one in its stead; leaving the EU and NATO; attaining economical autocracy and political neutrality
LEADERSHIP: Marian Kotleba (chairman of the party), Rastislav Schlosa¡r, Ja¡n Kecskas, Peter Krupa (deputy chairmen)
GROUP SIZE: 14 MPs, some thousands of party members, over 200 000 supporters (based on the amount of votes received in 2016 elections)
LOCATIONS: BanskÃ¡ Bystrica (main bastion; support predominantly in the central/eastern Slovakia)
TACTICS: political engagement, marches, protests, online populist propaganda, illegal train patrols, local public help (donations, subsidies); recently the group started to distance itself from the extremist mainstream as it became a systemic actor
FUNDING: parliamentary funding, private donations, membership fees, partially also merchandise
OPPOSITION: personal conflicts with SHO due to different political strategies; after becoming a systemic, parliamentary party conflicts with other right-wing groups appeared; anti-fascist/extremist groups
SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook
LSNS leader and MP Marian Kotleba handing over a 1488 cheque to a family of a handicapped man. The amount is a combination of two neo-Nazi numbers; 14 refers to a 14-word white supremacist slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children", while 88 refers to the Nazi salute "Heil Hitler" (with H being the 8th letter of the alphabet).
LSNS' illegal public order patrols in public trains, mainly in the eastern part of the country.
Slovenské Hnutie Obrody
Slovenské Hnutie Obrody (Slovak Revival Movement; SHO) is a Slovak far-right-oriented ultra-nationalist civic association. It was established in 2004. The group is well-known for its cultivated and comparably less violent self-presentation, which allows it to group radicals and nationalist intellectuals alike. It featured in the media in 2016 for publishing a list of conspirators spreading the Brussels propaganda on its Facebook page; the list is composed of top Slovak politicians, diplomats, liberal-oriented journalists, intellectuals, analysts etc.
In 2013, SHO started its project Division Volunteer, a sport/military volunteer organisation. Recently, SHO has decided to become an officially registered political party. As of April 2017, the group is collecting signatures for the registration petition.
IDEOLOGY â Slovak ultra-nationalism, pan-Slavic and anti-immigration stances. Like Ä½SNS, it is strongly Eurosceptic, against membership in NATO and reveres the Slovak State. It is also deeply anti-American, pro-Russian and mildly anti-Hungarian.
GOALS â leaving the EU and NATO; drastically reforming the current political system; abandoning the Western orientation of the country and adopting a pan-Slavic/more East-oriented foreign policy
LEADERSHIP â Robert Å vec (chairman), Pavol Privalinec (deputy chairman)
GROUP SIZE â several hundreds of core members; 46 000 fans on their Facebook page
LOCATIONS â previously only Nitra region, currently also Trnava and Å½ilina regions; due to active social networks use also nation-wide reach
ALLIANCES â Vzdor Kysuce (see below; VK uses the group to propagate its radical ideas in a more sophisticated and acceptable fashion), Stjag (RU), Dobrovoletz (RU), Patriotski Front (SRB), SNP 1389 (SRB)
TACTICS â online activism, demonstrations, public mobilisation projects,
FUNDING â unknown
OPPOSITION â personal conflicts with Ä½SNS due to different political strategies; anti-fascist/extremist groups
WEBSITE â http://www.sho.sk/
SOCIAL MEDIA: â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SHOsvk/ â¢ Twitter: https://twitter.com/shosvk â¢ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SHOsvk
SlovenskÃ Branci (Slovak Recruits; SB) is a Slovak paramilitary nationalistic civic group. Founded in 2012, the group became known for its paramilitary training in the woods using deactivated firearms conducted by instructors taught in Russian military courses. One of its former members (Martin Keprta) currently fights in Ukraine with the pro-Russian forces. The group exhibits a high degree of organisation and discipline and in recent years has adopted milder stances, abandoning its initial extremism in favour of greater public support; while nationalistic, it is comparably less extreme in its views than other groups in the report.
IDEOLOGY â Slovak nationalism, militarism. Several instructors are deeply pro-Russian, potentially influencing other members and recruits. Previously mildly neo-Nazi positions, currently in opposition to the ideology; some elements of the group exhibit marginal extremist, xenophobic, anti-EU/NATO and pro-Russian sentiments. Many members of the group hope for support and cooperation with the armed forces of Slovak Republic in the future.
GOALS â allegedly fomenting patriotism and love for oneâs nation and its traditions; helping the society by educating patriotic and physically strong individuals capable of complementing the inadequate Slovak Armed Forces; assisting in crisis situations
LEADERSHIP â Peter SvrÄek (founder and chairman of the group; 1st division leader) + several division commanders
GROUP SIZE â approx. 100-200 core members and many more sympathisers; 10 000 fans on their Facebook profile
LOCATIONS â the organisation has 17 divisions in several regions of the country, covering approx. 50% of the territory
ALLIANCES â possibly Narodnyj Sobor (RUS; SB members took part in training with them in Russian Federation); formerly SHO and SP, but cooperation cancelled to avoid extremist labelling
TACTICS â paramilitary and survival training; public assistance projects; assistance with natural disaster management
FUNDING â private donations
OPPOSITION â none known; anti-fascist/extremist groups (Antifa)
WEBSITE â http://www.slovenski-branci.sk/
SOCIAL MEDIA: â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slovenskibranci1 â¢ Twitter: - â¢ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIH3q1epHn4RQ6RZyfYEMjw
Divisions of SlovenskÃ Branci marching through the city of Trnava, 7.1. 2017.
A still from the groupâs âLive Firing Exercisesâ video.
SlovenskÃ Branci during training.
AKÄNÃ SKUPINA VZDOR KYSUCE
AkÄnÃ¡ Skupina Vzdor - Kysuce (Action Group Resistance â Kysuce; VK), formed in 2011 by splinters of SlovenskÃ¡ PospolitosÅ¥ â Å½ilina (see below), is a Slovak ultra-nationalistic neo-Nazi paramilitary grouping, notorious for its highly xenophobic stances, high discipline and arduous military training involving exercising after pepper spraying. In June 2015, the group called on its supporters to infiltrate police and armed forces of Slovak Republic; to this end they also organised several workshops to aid the candidates with masking their ideological stances, connections to the group and thus facilitate their infiltration.
IDEOLOGY â neo-Nazism, Slovak ultra-nationalism, anti-Semitism, anti-immigration. Propagates xenophobia, anti-multiculturalism and claims to be fighting against the New World Order and liberal democracy. Unlike SB, Vzdor Kysuce is strongly anti-systemic and does not assume possible cooperation with national security forces. However, it avoids chauvinism and cooperates with similarly-oriented anti-systemic nationalistic parties in the CEE region.
GOALS â disposing of democratic system of governance and installing national socialism inspired by Hitlerâs Germany
LEADERSHIP â formerly MariÃ¡n MagÃ¡t (an established name of Slovak neo-Nazi scene; in 2016 elections present on Ä½SNSâs ballot under number 88), currently unknown
GROUP SIZE â less than 100 core members; strict recruitment conditions (being an active member, abstaining from drugs (alcohol and tobacco including), physical and mental strength, heterosexual orientation, IQ over 100); one becomes a member after a year-long trial period
LOCATIONS â Kysuce region (north of Slovakia) and Trnava region
ALLIANCES â SlovenskÃ© Hnutie Obrody (SHO), Magyar Nemzeti Arcvonal (HU), DSSS (CZ); until recently also Ä½SNS, but due to different political strategies and personal conflicts no longer applies
TACTICS â paramilitary trainings (one allegedly involving former Specnatz/GRU instructor); small-scale public help
FUNDING â membership fees
OPPOSITION â anti-fascist/extremist groups
WEBSITE â none (previously http://www.vzdorkysuce.org/, currently disabled)
SOCIAL MEDIA: â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ak%C4%8Dn%C3%A1-Skupina-Vzdor-%C5%BDilina-615262271881100/ (previous page banned) â¢ Twitter: - â¢ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/VzdorKysuce/videos?view=0
Group photo of AkÄnÃ¡ Skupina Vzdor Kysuce during one of their training.
Video of the groupâs exercises in 2011.
A screenshot of the Vzdorâs deleted Facebook page.
ASOCIÃCIA SLOVENSKÃCH VOJAKOV
AsociÃ¡cia SlovenskÃ½ch Vojakov (Slovak Soldiersâ Association; ASV) is a Slovak civic association uniting both former and present professional soldiers of the Slovak Armed Forces. Although established in 1990, the group became active in 2015 with strong anti-systemic rhetoric, anti-NATO and pro-Russian stances, calling for the USA to leave NATO and join the Russian Federation instead; moreover, in 2017 the group unilaterally cancelled its long-time cooperation with the Ministry of Defence and its leader, Jozef Å½arnoviÄan demanded of the judiciary to examine MoD Peter GajdoÅ¡ and several security analysts for treason and working in opposition to Slovak national interests.
According to several analysts, the group presents the greatest threat to Slovak security. Coupling its anti-systemic/anti-NATO stances with the fact that it is composed of professional who have knowledge of the location of military installations, arms depots and many of its members hold security clearance, the threat potential of the group is regarded as very high.
IDEOLOGY â Slovak nationalism, militarism. Strongly anti-NATO, notably pro-Russian
GOALS â leaving NATO, realigning Slovak foreign policy towards East; changing the proportions inside the Slovak Armed Forces in favour of combat units
LEADERSHIP â Jozef Å½arnoviÄan (chairman), SlavomÃr GÃ¡l (deputy chairman)
GROUP SIZE â unknown, possibly several hundred members (in past had 530 members, now the member base is reduced)
LOCATIONS â LiptovskÃ½ MikulÃ¡Å¡ (headquarters)
ALLIANCES â previously connected to the parliamentary party SlovenskÃ¡ NÃ¡rodnÃ¡ Strana (SNS); currently unknown
TACTICS â online activism, public statements
FUNDING â unknown
OPPOSITION â none known
SOCIAL MEDIA: â¢ Facebook:
â¢ Twitter: - â¢ YouTube: -
SlovenskÃ¡ PospolitosÅ¥ (Slovak Togetherness; SP) is a Slovak far-right-oriented ultra-nationalist civic association. The group was founded by the current Ä½SNS leader, MariÃ¡n Kotleba, as a political party, but in 2006 it was dissolved by the Supreme Court which found the partyâs actions anti-constitutional. After that, it continued to operate as a civic movement. In 2008, Ministry of Interior banned the organisation; however, the ruling was later reverted and SP remains a legal civic association.The group is in essence a neo-Nazi, authoritarian and nationalistic movement; as it is the Ä½SNSâs predecessor, they share many of their ideological stances (although being a much smaller, extra-systemic actor allows the SP to adopt more radical positions that Ä½SNS was forced to abandon). The group maintains good relations with other nationalistic and anti-systemic groups in the CEE region.
IDEOLOGY â Slovak ultra-nationalism, pan-Slavic (but not pro-Russian/pro-Putin, just the opposite) and anti-immigration stances. Anti-EU, anti-NATO, anti-Semitic, anti-Romani.
GOALS â overthrowing the current liberal-democratic political system and installing an authoritarian one; leaving the EU and NATO;
LEADERSHIP â formerly MariÃ¡n Kotleba, currently Jakub Å krabÃ¡k
GROUP SIZE â several hundreds of core members; 8 500 fans on their Facebook page
LOCATIONS â Liptov region; generally northern/eastern portion of the country
ALLIANCES â Vzdor Kysuce (VK), Azov (UA; recently attended the âIntermarumâ conference in Kiev), Magyar Nemzeti Arcvonal (HU);
TACTICS â demonstrations and public protests, small-scale public assistance projects
FUNDING â online merchandise sale, private donations
OPPOSITION â in opposition of Ä½SNS for abandoning the âgenuine radicalâ approach; anti-fascist/extremist groups
WEBSITE â https://pospolitost.wordpress.com/
SOCIAL MEDIA: â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlovenskaPospolitost1995/ â¢ Twitter: - â¢ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ESPEmedia/feed
Marches of SlovenskÃ¡ PospolitosÅ¥ (pre-2006 era; current Ä½SNS party leader and MP, MariÃ¡n Kotleba in the forefront holding torch).
Â· MarciÅ¡iak, Marcel: BrÃ¡nik: SkutoÄnou hrozbou pre Slovensko sÃº frustrovanÃ bÃ½valÃ vojaci, hrozia vojenskÃ½m puÄom. http://www.tvnoviny.sk/exkluzivne/1858496_branik-skutocnou-hrozbou-pre-slovensko-su-frustrovani-byvali-vojaci-hrozia-vojenskym-pucom
Â· Radovan BrÃ¡nik: various articles from his blog. https://branik.blog.sme.sk/
Â· JanÃÄek, TomÃ¡Å¡: SÃºÄasnÃ© krajne pravicovÃ© nÃ¡silie na Slovensku. https://is.muni.cz/th/363709/fss_m/diplomova_praca.txt
Â· MikuÅ¡oviÄ, DuÅ¡an: NovÃ½ Å¾upan eÅ¡te ako lÃder Pospolitosti chvÃ¡lil vyhnanie Å½idov z krajiny. https://domov.sme.sk/c/7017134/novy-zupan-este-ako-lider-pospolitosti-chvalil-vyhnanie-zidov-z-krajiny.html
Â· Stop FaÅ¡izmu: SlovenskÃ¡ pospolitostÂ´â NS. http://stopfasizmu.sk/slovenska-pospolitost-ns/
Â· MikuÅ¡oviÄ, DuÅ¡an: SlovenskÃ branci nie sÃº jedinÃ. Ako sa u nÃ¡s zoceÄ¾uje krajnÃ¡ pravica? https://dennikn.sk/55206/slovenski-branci-nie-su-jedini-ako-sa-zoceluje-krajna-pravica/
Â· Other information included here is accessible on official webpages of included groups, in their published manifests, statements or on publicly available Facebook profiles of their leaders/members.