Members of the Reichsbürger, or Citizens of the Reich, movement demonstrate in front of the Reichstag building, the seat of the German parliament, or Bundestag, Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)


Austrian police raid homes of suspected far-right activists


Austrian security services carried out eight searches early on the morning of July 26, targeting suspected members of the far-right movement Bundesstaat Preußen, also known as Reichsbürger. Thirty-six people were also summoned for questioning.

The police arrived in full force including regular police patrols, support forces from the Special Operations Command Cobra, police dog-handlers, forensic experts and IT investigators.

The raids took place at the private residences of alleged members of the Bundesstaat Preußen, a name that refers to the Prussian Federal State. The movement rejects the modern states of Austria and Germany and is in favour of the German Reich as it existed between 1871 and 1918. It also does not recognise the current borders.

According to the Ministry of the Interior in Vienna, during the police operation a total of eight searches were conducted in the state of Carinthia, and 36 individuals are being questioned by state security agents.

Nationwide, 41 suspects from five federal states are under investigation regarding the same suspicions. A temporary weapons ban was issued against all subjects in the inquiry.

Members of the self-proclaimed and internationally connected movement have been attempting to paralyse the public administration in Austria for quite some time, observers say.

As part of that, those involved submit numerous documents to various authorities, challenging the legitimacy of state institutions by submitting baseless requests and delay proceedings. Several members of the movement are suspected of high treason, threats and illegal coercion.

Groups with an anti-government stance such as the Bundesstaat Preußen refuse to recognise the existence of the Republic of Austria, its institutions and its rule of law system.

“The large number of suspects, in this case, indicates that this scene must be taken seriously,” the director of Austrian intelligence said.

In May, German police arrested three people linked to an alleged conspiracy to topple the government. At the end of last year, officers also searched more than 100 locations suspected to be involved.

Some observers suggest there are more than 20,000 members of the Bundesstaat Preußen movement in Europe.