Propaganda exploitation of Italy neo-Nazi bust

Italy's Division of General Investigation & Special Operations (DIGOS) on Nov. 15 announced that it had broken up the Naples-based cell of an armed neo-Nazi network called the Order of Hagal, arresting five suspected militants. The five are being held on terrorist association and other charges. Raids were also carried out in several other cities across the country, including Milan, Turin, Palermo, Ragusa, Verona, Salerno, Potenza, Cosenza and Crotone, turning up large caches of fascist regalia. (ANSA, L'Arena, Agenzia Nova, La Repubblica, Sky TG24)

In addition to predictable swastika flags and portraits of Mussolini were a banner (or t-shirt) with the insignia of Ukraine's Azov Battalion and a copy of Valhalla Express, the memoir of an Azov fighter calling himself Callsign Woland. Sky News also reports: "One of the members of the Order is a fugitive in Ukraine, where he had contact with the Azov Battalion, engaging in the war..." The fugitive is identified as Anton Radomsky, and is said to be among those who had discussed a terror attack on Naples' Vulcano Buono shopping mall.

This is avidly jumped on by Putin propagandist Max Blumenthal's Grayzone, under the headline: "Blowback: Italian police bust Azov-tied Nazi cell planning terror attacks." The teaser reads: "The arrest of Italian neo-Nazis affiliated with the Ukrainian Azov Battalion highlights the terrifying potential for blowback from the Ukraine proxy war."

The writer, Alex Rubinstein (a veteran of direct Kremlin propaganda mouthpiece RT), of course fails to mention that in the press photos where the regalia is displayed, the Azov Battalion ensign appears directly below that of the European Solidarity Front for Syria. This is a pro-Assad formation, and its logo includes an image of the flag of the dictatorship, which is rejected by Syria's opposition movement. Italy's anti-fascist Patria Indipendente writes that the ESFS is a project of the Italian far-right movement Casa Pound.

This is hilariously ironic and reveals the deep cynicism of Blumenthal and his collaborator Rubinstein, as they are (of course) avid Assad propagandists.

We have noted before support on the radical right in Europe and America for the Assad dictatorship. That some of these sinister freaks are also rallying around the Azov Battalion (which finds itself on the opposite side of the current geopolitical divide from Bashar Assad) shouldn't be too surprising. There are far-right ultra-nationalists fighting on both sides in Ukraine, as we have noted again and again. The difference is that in Ukraine, they operate in the shadows—whereas in Russia, far-right ultra-nationalism holds power at the highest level.

Hat tip to Bob from Brockley who brought this little propaganda game to our attention.