Publico (Portugal): ultra-Portugal use the tournaments of martial arts to establish connections with European neo-Nazis

The facade of the old hardware store in the heart of REGO, Lisbon, no hints at what is going on inside, his Facebook page too. There are no new stories, only one promotional video. The faces of the people appearing in the frame are blurred, everything is concentrated on the techniques of kickboxing. Repost this video did the members of the Portuguese and Russian right-wing organizations.

Hall called Trebaruna, this sports-cultural centre was officially registered in December 2016 in the municipality of Odivelas. Name Trebaruna has roots in lusitaniae mythology (goddess of the hearth, associated with water), etymologically, the word consists of treba, and runa, which means “house” and “the secret.” The symbols and terminology of this mythology used part of the Portuguese right-wing.

A few months later in Portugal, has formed a neo-fascist movement Escudo Identitário, and was born a new way of cooperation: the national competition, which was attended by prominent figures of Portuguese, Italian and Russian right-wing.

In the promotional video Trebaruna posted June 12, 2018, there is gonçalo Portugal, whose real name is gonçalo Neves. It is the basis of relations between the Portuguese and Russian fighters. In this recording one of the characters wears a t-shirt with the logo of the Escudo Identitário.

Some members of the Escudo Identitário began his career at Juventude Nacional Renovadora, but left because they believed that they needed organization, more aimed at young people and not limited by political party. They wanted to focus on the ideological, cultural and extra-parliamentary struggle in the streets, not at a campaign debate where far-right, particularly the party Partido Nacional Renovador (PNR), has rarely achieved results (0.33 per cent of the votes in the last parliamentary elections in 2019).

They created Escudo Identitário, and inspired by the Italian CasaPound and the French Génération Identitaire, organized a sudden media campaign against immigrants and perceived threat that they pose. For example, they put up posters against gender ideology in schools and universities, organized in 2018, a neo-Nazi parade square Restauradores in Lisbon in celebration of the independence in 1640, and carried out the action on distribution of food and clothing. In 2018, the delegation from the organization went to Rome for a meeting with neo-Nazi activists CasaPound.

Today Escudo Identitário shows little public activity. She is accused by some right-wing in the loss of identity (and hence rejected). However, in 2018, she was able to serve as a center of attraction for the far right.

July 21, 2018 members of the organization created what has become the main reason for the gravity conference “Modern reality: agenda and decisions for the future” at the Palace of Independence in Lisbon. As lecturers it was attended by the Vice-President of the PNR Joan Pais de Amaral, Nuno Afonso from Escudo Identitário, Rui Amiguinho consisting Asociação Portugueses Primeiro, as well as Director of the far-right publishing house Contra-Corrente, Asociação Portugueses Primeiro, Gianluca Iannone — leader of the Italian CasaPound and Maksim Savel’ev — the head of the Russian Father Frost Mode.

After a day of debate in the gym Trebaruna was the match and then a concert at a club near the docks of Lisbon. A video made at the festival and published by gonçalo Portugal in Instagram, captured a few people, depicting the Nazi salute during a performance of the musical group.

These people — Russian activists from Father Frost Mode arrived in Portugal at the invitation gonçalo Portugal. The day before the conference, they gave a master-class on health and martial arts (MMA) in Costa de Caparica near Lisbon. During the event they advertised the tournament, which is annually carried out in Russia. In addition, they walked through the night Lisbon and rested in a Cave bar in the Bairro Alto, which is managed by Gonzalo Portugal.

“A lot of guests from Spain, Italy, Germany, UK, Czech Republic and even from distant Brazil and the USA arrived in Portugal on this great event,” — wrote in Instagram Dmitry Andrunin, one of the leaders of Russian organizations.

Strengthening ties

Gyms, workshops and tournaments in mixed martial arts (MMA) became a tool of right-wing recruitment and establishment of international contacts. Many of these activities organized by people associated with the Ukrainian movement “Azov”*, lauded the Portuguese party Chega results Escudo Identitário ally. First, the tournaments were Amateur, some have left so far, but many have become professional and earn considerable income.

That is why among the close to Escudo Identitário there are activists involved in these tournaments. Throughout this chain of events is a citizen of Russia and Germany Denis Kapustin (known as Denis Nikitin) one of the most famous representatives of European right-wing in martial arts and owner of sport brand White Rex. He is an ally of the movement “the basics”* and close to Father Frost Mode. Nikitin was organized tournaments for the German neo-Nazi NPD, the Italian CasaPound and to group the hammerskins, according to Vice News.

One of these tournaments was held in a warehouse in Athens, Greece, in April of 2019, and was attended by eleven of the Portuguese. It was the fifth tournament MMA Pro Patria, organized by Kapustin and Dimitris Zafiropoulos responsible for attacks on immigrants and left-wing activists committed to cooperation with the neo-Nazi organization Aurora Dourada, said P2 of the Greek anti-fascist sources in the MMA. In the event, in addition to the Greeks and Portuguese, participated fighters from France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

One of the Portuguese, appeared in this tournament was Joao Martins, known in right-wing circles and sentenced to 17 years in jail (served 9 years and 4 months) for the murder of Alcindo Monteiro in the Bairro Alto in 1995. “My presence at the event, MMA, and the presence of other Portuguese, due to the invitation. After receiving it, I arrived in Athens in order to support the participants,” in February informed in writing to the P2 Martins, who is the chief editor of the journal Plus Ultra far-right publishing house Contra-Corrente accompanying the participants Escudo Identitário in Italy.

“These tournaments, conferences and concerts are organized with the aim to strengthen ties between members of the European organizations, which in the bulk are athletes,” continues the activist right-wing. However, he denies the assumption that these events were used for political propaganda and recruitment. In the end, he noted that they “can be seen as a way of promoting these organisations in the sport and a healthy lifestyle.”

During the trip, the editor of the magazine was accompanied by luís graça, a member of the Escudo Identitário and son Filipe graça, President of the Board of the party Chega and gonçalo Portugal, who met in the ring with a fighter of the Czech team, sponsored by mark Kapustin White Rex. Gonçalo Portugal won and got a medal, which boasted in Instagram. Luís graça worked at bar Cave and gonçalo Portugal was present at the rally Escudo Identitário 10 June 2019 in Lisbon.

International relations

It seems that Goncalo Portugal is the main link in the international relations of the Portuguese neo-fascist movement. In April 2018, a year before the tournament in Greece, he took part in the tournament held in Reconquista Club, the restaurant with the ring movement “Azov”* in Kiev, whose true owner is Kapustin. In addition, he was involved in the outdoor sports area of “Rocking” in the Ukrainian capital with the North American members of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), and a few months later, in October, four of them were arrested by the FBI for incitement to riot, among them Robert Rondo, one of the leaders.

RAM, a far — right group in the environment of martial arts, are responsible for the attacks on the rallies of the left in cities in California, USA. Three of its members were convicted for the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia in August of 2017, where he was killed anti-fascist activist.

Members of the RAM followed the strategy of internationalization and has established contacts in Europe. In 2018 they visited CasaPound in Italy, attended neo-Nazi festival Shield and Sword (SS) in the Pinworm, Germany, and in February of this year he was on the “Day of Glory” in Budapest, Hungary, dedicated to the Nazi soldiers who died during the Second world war. In March they joined Chukovskomu the March, held in Sofia in memory of the Bulgarian Nazi ruler.

Gonçalo Portugal appears in one of the commercials RAM training in the Gym with members of the organization. The group took part in the tournament in Reconquista Club at the invitation of the “Azov”* and met with Kapustin. They have clearly stated their internationalization in the social network GAB, the widely used right-wing because of its low requirements for publication. “One of our guys [Robert Rando] had the honor of being the first American who participated in the pan-European tournament in Reconquista Club in Ukraine. It was a good experience to meet with nationalists from afar, e.g. from Portugal or Sweden,” reported the publication.

Contacts with the Ukrainians did not stop. In December 2018 gonçalo Portugal returned to Kiev for training in the Gym. “Nothing can stop the Portuguese blood,” he wrote on Instagram, showing in the middle of winter his tattoos, some of which are symbols associated with the far right.

Also in December 2018 in Kiev hosted the fourth Asgardsrei neo-Nazi festival, which was attended by music bands and held a tournament in MMA, organized by the Russian Alexei levchinym. He is the leader of a neo-Nazi group Wotanjugend and has no connection with the Aurora Dourada and Elena Semenyaka, head of the international Department of the National body, the political party of the “Azov”*. Levkin for five years fought in the ranks of the “Azov”*.

According to P2, in 2018 gonçalo Portugal also travelled to Warsaw, Poland where they shot from a submachine gun the Uzi in the dash PM Shooter, and then posted photos of this event on Instagram. Relations between the Polish and Ukrainian ultra-right is strong enough.

In October of 2019, the Portuguese activist visited the MMA tournament, hosted by Father Frost Mode in Moscow, Russia. Finally in January of this year I visited Oslo, Norway, where she trained in the gym — there is a strong far-right pan-Scandinavian movement of the Nordic Resistance Movement (communication with him was established the “New social order”, under the leadership of mário Machado), which Semenyaka, in an interview with the organization, promised the opportunity to practice “military tactics, shooting and other” in Ukraine.

Gonçalo Portugal refused to comment on his participation in the tournaments MMA and foreign travel. Meanwhile, his profile in Instagram was deleted.

Disturbing signals

The stories that these meetings serve mainly the promotion of “sport and healthy lifestyle”, as stated by Joao Martins, controversial. “The sport combines elements of the chain that binds people and, meanwhile, spreads the ideology,” – said R2 Alexandra Guerreiro, analyst at justice and security, a former employee of the Portuguese secret services SIED. We are talking about the method of recruitment, as “sooner or later, although at first it’s hard to believe people are starting to see a family in each other”.

The most “disturbing” for Alexandra Guerreiro are alone Portuguese activists in Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Norway and mass media in Greece. “The first journey made possibly out of a desire to understand what is happening and to learn wondering whether they themselves gain influence in Portugal, with a wide friendly support from abroad. And then, being sure of security, went the other”, this was done to create new cells, notes the analyst.

Guerreiro believes that “expansion of ties with the Iberian Peninsula is a threat of future violent crimes.”

The expert fears that the activities of far-right, based on national hatred, are not receiving the necessary attention as “security threats, including transnational”. “It seems that we wait for something similar to September 11, 2001, to begin to act appropriately,” said Guerreiro.

“These organizations are enemies of the legal state, it is obvious that they are a threat,” — said in a conversation with P2 is responsible for strength and security. “The extreme right every time is used more violent methods to demonstrate their power and influence, and the Portuguese connection in the MMA significantly increase the probability of formation of aggressive groups. This relationship with martial arts dangerous,” he concluded.

The judiciary police believes these signals are disturbing and promises to respond to them with a due degree of attention, said P2 the representative of the organization, emphasizing that the extreme right is a threat that must always be taken into account.

In may, the extreme right will again become a subject of interest to the Council’s monitoring information systems of the Republic (CFSIRP). In its latest report they warn of the risks of “violent extremism” and “crime, led by alleged extremists, whether in organized rebellion, demonstrations of identity or white supremacy”.

Geopolitical project

International tournaments are one way of establishing international contacts, but there are others. Escudo Identitário organized may 4, 2019 conference “prism”, and Elena Semenyaka, head of the international Department of the National corps, arrived in Lisbon for performances. In the audience was Joan Martins, denying the Association with this organization.

“We are grateful to Elena Semenyak for her arrival and the performance, explaining the political situation in her country and the actions of “Azov”*, — reported in the publication on the event page on Facebook, where praising the program Intermarium, which she lit. This program, restored the “Azov”*, has Polish roots and is a security policy alternative to NATO and the EU, namely, the Union of countries from the Baltic to the Black sea in a regional Alliance.

The idea of “Azov”* similar to the ideas Chega, especially in the field of youth organizations. 17 APR Intermarium Support Group “Azov”* posted on Facebook a video of Chega, where the applicant for a post of the head of the youth organization Carlos Martins said that the most inspirational European leader is Hungarian, Viktor Orban, in addition, he believes that the draft Intermarium interesting and would be taken more seriously if the EU is now faced with a smaller number of geopolitical challenges. One of the candidates for the post of regional adviser in the Northern zone Chega is Manuel Resende, a reporter for the far-right newspaper O Diablo, held in the Board Escudo Identitário and is still associated with it. He also attended one of the conferences where he was invited Semenyaka.

This investigation was attended by Alexey Kuzmenko, a member of the Bellingcat, an organization dedicated to monitoring right-wing.

* The movement of “Azov” — an organization banned in Russia