A conference of Russian and Western far-right figures in the Russian city of St. Petersburg was delayed on March 22 after what police said was a bomb threat targeting the event’s venue.
Organizers of the Russian International Conservative Forum said police informed them of an anonymous tip that a bomb had been planted in the Holiday Inn hotel hosting the event in the city center.
They said a bomb squad was set to arrive at the hotel and that attendees could be evacuated.
The conference gathered Russian and Western far-right figures, including many politicians linked to neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic views.
Organizers accused the forum’s “opponents” of phoning in the bomb threat.
“Apparently this is how our opponents decided to disrupt our gathering,” the BaltInfo news agency cited an unidentified organizer as saying.
Earlier in the day, police arrested several antifascist activists protesting outside the hotel.
Dozens of people took part in the protest outside the hotel where the controversial gathering was being held.
The organizers say all participants, including foreign guests, belong to officially registered parties.
The list of foreign guests include European Parliament members Udo Voigt, a German politician accused of voicing anti-Semitic and xenophobic views, and Georgios Epitidios, a representative of Greece’s Golden Dawn party, which is viewed in Athens as neo-fascist.
Jared Taylor, an American who calls for white supremacy, and Nicholas Griffin, former head of the British National Party and a prominent Holocaust denier, are also on the list of participants.
Griffin said at the event that "I see this forum as a way of pushing the fight back against liberalism and what we call modernism, the destruction of traditional values, including Christianity throughout the modern world."
He added: "Russia is about tradition and Christianity and it's very important that traditionalists from Russia, Europe, and America get together to present our ideas more effectively to the general public."
Aleksandr Kofman, a pro-Russian separatist leader in Ukraine's rebel-held Donetsk region, is also on the guest list.
The list also includes Russian politicians Yegor Kholmogorov and Stanislav Vorobyev, who have called for the "reunification" of eastern Ukraine with Russia.
Russian lawmaker Aleksei Zhuravlyev, who has called for same-sex families to be stripped of the right to have children, was also expected to attend the meeting.
Activists and politicians alike have demanded that authorities ban the gathering, saying its participants judge people only by their race, religion, and sexual orientation.
Boris Vishnevsky, a member of the opposition Yabloko party, said the views of the participants represent "xenophobia, the hatred of aliens, and dividing people into categories, which always gives rise to bloodshed."
St. Petersburg city authorities had not publicly responded to the request to ban the gathering.
The meeting comes weeks before Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts foreign leaders and dignitaries for a military parade in Moscow celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in World War II.
Putin and other Russian officials are fiercely proud of the Soviet role in the Allied victory over Adolf Hitler's Germany and voice anger at what they say are efforts in some EU and NATO nations, such as the Baltics, to glorify the Nazis.
Russian officials and media also portray the pro-Western government that came to power in Ukraine with the downfall of former President Viktor Yanukovych as a "fascist junta."
But Kremlin critics say Russia is persistently courting far-right politicians and groups in Europe in order to bolster support abroad for Putin, further the conservative agenda he has pursued in his third term, and counter U.S. influence.
Voigt, the leader of Germany’s National Democratic Party who once praised Hitler as a “great statesman,” said at the conference that "we do not support the sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict."
"It is incredible what patience Russia and President Putin have shown in the face of NATO's aggressive policies," Voigt said.
Russian Far-Right Forum Halted After Bomb Threat
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