Ukraine and Covid are influencing Dutch far right groups, security service says

A sign in support of Ukraine in an Amsterdam window. Photo:

The war in Ukraine is becoming part of the far-right and anti-government narrative in the Netherlands, the head of the AIVD security service has said.

Russian president Vladmir Putin’s take on the invasion is now being adapted to the ideas that radical groups already had, Erik Akerboom said at the presentation of the agency’s 2021 annual report.

The report warns that trust in the democratic legal order is being undermined by the rise in anti-government forces, and that there is a danger radical ideas will develop into extremism and ultimately violence.

The armed conflict is leading to major geopolitical shifts that are likely to have long-term consequences in terms of both relationships between countries and spheres of influence, the report said.

‘Threats are increasingly interlinked: national and international, digital and physical, state and non-state. Threats are also developing faster and faster due to the online component they have,’ the report states.

Growing threat

The report warns that right-wing extremist groups gained larger followings in 2021, fed by the anti-coronavirus measure movement.

‘If discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexuality or religion is normalised, in the long term this will undermine the democratic legal order, based on diversity and equal rights for all,’ the report said.

The report warned again of the form of right wing terrorism known as accelerationism which lures in vulnerable boys online and glorifies violence. ‘This makes an attack by right-wing terrorist loners or groups conceivable,’ the agency said.

It also described the increase in threats against politicians, scientists, doctors, police officers and journalists as ‘alarming’. Last year, one extremist was arrested on suspicion of preparing to attack prime minister Mark Rutte. He was armed with a gun when picked up, the agency said.

‘Mistrust, disinformation and polarisation erode trust in democracy and can lead to people withdrawing into parallel societies, the report said.

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