Having hosted a gathering of Neo-Nazis and fascists in St. Petersburg, Russia, Holiday Inn received a portrait of Adolf Hitler from outraged activists. Member of the group RPR-Parnassus Andrey Zaretsky commented: “In our opinion, this terrible dictator and murderer of millions of people personifies the administration of this hotel, since they not only allowed entry to self-proclaimed fascists, but also aided in the arrests of those who came to protest their actions. Moreover, in December, the administration of the same hotel actively helped to disrupt the conference of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, “Open Russia,” drowning out the sound with their loud music and sirens. In our organization’s opinion, this behavior is unacceptable. Our goal is to demonstrate to Russian society that the youth objects to the actions of people who allow the return of fascism. 70 years ago, our ancestors did not surrender the city to the Nazis. And we also won’t give it up!”
Propaganda of fascism is legally prohibited in Russia. In direct contravention with the country’s official stance, Putin is courting marginal, far-right, ultra-radical organizations in Europe and the U.S. According to his warped logic, any enemies of Russia’s opponents can be recruited to sow unrest and dissent in their home countries. Along with Neo-Nazis, fascists and at least one convicted member of a terrorist organization, the forum hosted Nathan Smith, one of the leaders of the Texas Nationalist Movement. He was invited by the Kremlin-backed Anti-Globalist Movement of Russia. Smith said that his goal was to meet like-minded individuals who cherish the same values. While Russia actively supports and sometimes artificially foments separatist movements in other countries, separatism is illegal in Russia. Any Russian groups that seek independence from Moscow are designated as terrorist organizations and face serious consequences.
Other guests and speakers of the forum included:
- Nick Griffin, Holocaust denier, the expelled former leader of the anti-immigrant British National Party and a fervent defender of Neo-Nazis.
- St. Petersburg Nazi, Alexey Milchakov, who was named in the EU list of sanctioned individuals for his terrorist activities in Ukraine. Milchakov rose to infamy for murdering and eating a puppy on-camera. He later joined the so-called “separatist movement” in Ukraine and was filmed torturing Ukrainian POW’s.
- Roberto Fiore, leader of Italy’s far-right party Forza Nuova. Fiore was tried and convicted in absentia for being a member of a fascist terror group, implicated in the Bologna bombing of 1980, which killed 85 people.
- Udo Voigt, a senior figure in Germany’s extreme-right National Democratic Party. Voigt is a fervent admirer of the Third Reich and the son of a Nazi soldier, whom he calls his “role model.” In 2004, Voigt was charged with incitement to hatred for calling Adolf Hitler a “great man.” In 2007, he faced additional charges for suggesting the name of Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2009, Voigt received a suspended prison sentence after being charged with inciting racial hatred and defamation for circulating racist pamphlets during the 2006 World Cup. Voigt handed out pamphlets that claimed that a black player was not worthy to play for Germany’s national team, which they said should be made up of whites only. In 2012, Voigt received a 10-month suspended sentence for glorifying the actions of Hitler’s SS.
- Former KKK lawyer Sam Dickson.
- Georgios Epitidios, a representative of Greece’s neo-fascist/ neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.
- Jared Taylor, a U.S. author and proponent of what he calls “racial realism,” author of the book “White Identity.”
[UPDATE] InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) representative Tim Rycroft commented: “Holiday Inn St Petersburg – Moskovskye Vorota hosts hundreds of meetings each year. The hotel’s meeting and conference facilities are available to be booked by all lawful organisations and the hotel extends its hospitality equally to all its guests. In accepting bookings, Holiday Inn does not endorse or condone any organisation, sentiment or individual.”