Members of Nordic Resistance Movement were posing after their street activity in Finland in July 2019. They are now using the name Towards Freedom.
Neo-nazi group Nordic Resistance Movement banned in Finland. Members of NRM are now trying to avoid legal consequences by using new name and logo.
The biggest neo-Nazi organization in Finland called Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), in Finnish Pohjoismainen Vastarintaliike (PVL), was set under a temporary ban by the Supreme Court in 28th of March 2019. The ban on the organization is temporary since the Supreme Court does allow the organization to appeal, and the final verdict should come in early 2020. The National Police Board of Finland decided to finally press charges against NRM in March 2017 after public pressure. NMRs national socialist ideology and goals remain the same but during the court case they have changed their tactics and softened their street activities. To our knowledge NRM has not dared to use violent methods or attack people proactively during the last two years. Planned attacks on opponents or innocent bystanders is something the organization frequently did in the years 2010-2013, such as the tear gas attack on Helsinki Pride attacks towards politicians and the stabbing at Jyväskylä library and so on. However, during their own manifestations and demonstrations they have abused and attacked several people even after 2017.
As we suspected in 2017, NRM would not easily disband even if the Finnish justice system would outlaw them. NRM has not become inactive but rather changed shape and tacticts. It is still the same Hitler-worshipping sect even if they change their name and flags in an attempt to avoid criminal charges. During the court case which was first handled by the District Court and the Court of Appeals NRM were unable to make use of their legal front group Pohjoinen Perinne ry as this registered association was considered to be part on NRM organization. Instead, NRM registered two new associations: Finn Aid (Suomalaisapu) and People's Unity (Kansan Yhtenäisyys). Finn Aid is charity with the intent to only help poor people they consider to be Finns inspired by similar activity of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn in Greece and Casa Pound in Italy.
People's Unity was an attempt to establish a parliamentary wing and to participate in elections. NRM didn't manage to get the required 5000 signatures needed to register a political party and after less than one year the parliamentarian project was quit silently. Through their connections in Estonia (primarily Finnish national socialist Risto Teinonen) NRM also took control over two Estonian companies, Altstadt OÜ and Haamer-Kirjastus OÜ (a printing company).
Nazis in the streets
NRM has for three years in a row arranged openly national socialist demonstration during Finland’s Independence day on the 6th of December called Towards Freedom (Kohti Vapautta) and also participated in the 612 demonstration which unites the whole Finnish radical right from NRM to the Finns Party into the same torch parade. NRM started the Independence day with other radical right-wing organizations (including members of the Finns Party). We have written about this founding of the new fascist tradition of Finnish Independence Day. During their 2018 Independence Day nazi demonstration, NRM did not march with their own flags due to the ongoing court case. Instead they used four swastika flags of Nazi Germany which were confiscated by the police and green flags without any symbol as a “protest”.
Nordic Resistance Movement demonstration in Helsinki 6th of December 2018.
That NRM since 2016 has chosen to have a separate parade before joining up with “the others” can also be understood as a power struggle with the rest of the far-right; NRM was an active part during the first two “612 torch parades”, acting as muscle for the neo-fascists of Suomen Sisu and Sarastus. As the 612 marches grew and attracted more attendees, several organizers became concerned with the bad reputation of the national socialists and their role was diminished. Also NRM was not satisfied that the “612 march” tried to appeal as “non-political patriotic march” and in their own demonstrations NMR has highlighted openly that it is a radical nationalist demonstration. The rest of the radical right have not distanced themselves more than on paper though, since NRM and other nazi thugs are allowed to attend while carrying their own symbols (this has pissed off some of the participants and organizers of the 612 march because the invitation of the march states that any symbols of any group or party are not allowed).
Advertisement for Nordic Resistance Movement demonstration in Helsinki. Back in 2016 NMR used the name Towards Freedom (Kohti vapautta) as the name for their own demonstration. Now NMR claims Towards Freedom is independent national socialist "movement".
In the first round of the court cases, the District Court of Pirkanmaa outlawed NRM just before the Independence Day marches in 2017. As a consequence, NRM announced that they were no longer an official organizer of the Towards Freedom march and that it would be arranged by "independent national socialists". These wordplays and tricks do not really fool anyone, and not much else had changed. The Towards Freedom demonstration website was registered to Paavo Laitinen, local leader of the NRM group in Jyväskylä. Laitinen is also known for participating in an attack to Jyväskylä library where one person was stabbed by the nazis. After this Laitinen was sentenced to fines for keeping a register on “Jews”, “Antifascists” and “Leftists” on his computer and later he snitched on his nazi comrades during the investigation.
In the 2017 march NRM still used their regular green flags with the Tyr rune, and the speakers were all leading figures from the organization. In march 2018, the Court of Appeals in Turku upheld the District Courts decision to outlaw NRM and the organization made an even bigger deal of "not being connected" to the Towards Freedom march they organized themselves. On Independence Day 2018 NRM chose to demonstrate with plain green flags and four swastika flags. The attendees were fewer than earlier years and most of them have a long history as far-right activists in Finland and Sweden.
New name and logo, same people and ideas
The NRM organization has been in a lot of trouble during the last years for several reasons. Their growth and influence have been affected by the ongoing court case while several older activists have retired, withdrawn or been imprisoned (like the murderer Jesse Torniainen). On the other hand, their website publishes even more harsh antisemitic and other racist propaganda. Activists in Pori and other cities have several times campaigned to collect signatures for the parliamentarian project which seem to have failed as of now. Tampere group is mostly focusing to the nazi charity project Finn Aid. Helsinki group is focusing on NRM core activites like putting upstickers during night time. But NRM is not doing well in Finland, since their groups in different cities have collapsed entirely or are upheld by only 1-3 individuals.
NMR made their first public street activity after many months in central Helsinki on 20th of April 2019. After the Supreme Court also upheld the ban on NRM, the organization now chose to not use neither the name Nordic Resistance Movement nor the tyr rune logo anymore. The manifestation consisted of a few older NRM activists together with a few new activists celebrating Adolf Hitler's 130th birthday. A few days earlier the Towards Freedom website had announced that the "new Finnish popular movement" is recruiting new members and would do street activity. NRM later wrote about the manifestation on both their old webpage (Kansallinen Vastarinta) and new Towards Freedom site in the usual nazi vocabulary:
On Saturday 20.4 a group of national socialist activists gathered in the centre of Helsinki for a public appearance. The date is symbolical for national socialism since it is 130 years since Adolf Hitler, the founder of national socialism, was born.
New logo of NRM in Finland is a adaptation of swastika. The new logo is associated with the new name "Towards Freedom" (in Finnish Kohti vapautta).
Nordic Resistance Movement street activity in July 2019 with the new name and flag.
Leafleting nazi propaganda and posturing with flags and banners is exactly the same thing NRM has done around Nordic Countries. Now they only publish the same tired "activist reports" on the Towards Freedom page and old webpage of NRM is now reduced to mere news page with less posts than earlier. With the new brand Finnish NRM is not trying to invent anything new. NRM is likely to keep on trying this double approach. For obvious juridical reasons they no longer dare to use the NRM name and logos. Instead they try to use the Towards Freedom slogan that is inherently associated with them due to the Independence Day marches NRM has organized during 2016, 2017 and 2018. The street activities during 2019 show that Towards Freedom is just NRM under another name in a desperate attempt to avoid intereference from the police. Almost all of the NRM accounts on social media have been removed a long time ago due to them spreading hate speech, but they have now started accounts under the Towards Freedom name. On the Vkontakte platform the Towards Freedom page is administrated by Jani Pihlaja, a member of Helsinki NRM. On the background banner is another NRM Helsinki member with a flare - Rami Joukanen (uses also the name Rami Termonen) who in 2007 tortured and murdered a handicapped man in Sweden.
NMRs first street activity with the name Towards Freedom (in Finnish Kohti vapautta). Old NMR activist Jani Pihlaja from Vantaa (on the left) and group leader of Pori Cari Murto (on the right) are holding banner with unknown new young member of NRM. NRM announced that age limit for Towards Freedom is 16 years.
Screenshot: The Kohti Vapautta page on Vkontakte. The admin is Jani Pihlaja from Vantaa (Helsinki NRM). Among the first followers of the page is new NRM member Janne Iiti from Lappeenranta.
Screenshot: Kohti Vapautta on Facebook. On the banner the torture murderer Rami Joukanen of NRM is holding a flare. The page has been deleted afterwards like most NRM Finnish pages.
It is yet to be seen if NRM in Finland can keep together their troubled organization and remain a part of the Nordic Resistance Movement, which is also facing internal conflict in Sweden. The founder and old leader of NRM Klas Lund and several other experienced nazis failed in a attempted coup inside the nazi organization and split from NRM to form a new nazi group called Nordisk styrka (Nordic Force / Strength). For now it seems that Finnish branch of NRM remains loyal to the Swedish leadership of NRM led by Simon Lindberg. It is still unclear what is the relationships of the Finnish NRM which is using new name, logo and webpage and the NRM in Sweden and other Nordic countries.
Antifascists now have an unique opportunity to disrupt the organizations activites in all around Nordic Countries. Regardless of the name and form of fascist activity, there is a need for antifascist action and broader anti-capitalist politics. The mass shootings in New Zealand and USA, the street nazis of NRM and parliamentarian organizations like The Finns party are all connected to the same international radical right wing environment that spreads all over the globe. Now is the time to get organized and act.