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    Anarchy in Austria: Hundreds of Residents Declare Themselves 'State Deniers'

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    A new movement of "state deniers" has sprung up in Austria, where hundreds of people are refusing to accept the authorities of the state or any punitive measures handed down by state officials.

    Hundreds of Austrians have declared themselves "state deniers," who don't accept the legitimacy of the Republic of Austria. 

    State deniers don't recognize the authority of state organs, refuse to pay taxes or fines and instead of contributing to public coffers, they claim compensation from civil servants and government institutions.

    The movement is particularly strong in Lower Austria, the northernmost and most populous of the country's nine states. It gathered pace in 2014, with the formation of groups such as the One People's Public Trust (OPPT), Freemen, Staatenbund (State Federation) and Terranier.

    Austrian civil servants say they are exasperated by the movement, which they characterize as "paper terrorism."

    "We are talking about paper terrorism, in which authorities are threatened when they carry out legal proceedings, mayors are threatened, tax agencies burdens are threatened, as are banks when they give these people a notice of charges," Roland Scherscher, director of Lower Austria's state office for constitutional protection, told ORF

    "There are about 250 sympathizers in Lower Austria. We have recorded them because they are constantly sending documents to the authorities in which they deny the state. There are also various public meetings which are advertised on the internet," he explained.

    Austrian officials hope that jail sentences recently handed down to some state deniers will deter more Austrians from joining the movement.

    On January 30, a 46-year-old state refuser in the town of Krems an der Donau, Lower Austria, was sentenced to 18 months of part-time imprisonment after he refused to pay taxes and bills, and attempted to extort tens of millions of euros from state and municipal officials and employees of insurance companies.

    On March 15, eight more deniers of the state, members of the OPPT movement, will face court proceedings in Krems. The defendants, six men and two women, are charged with severe coercion, persistent persecution and false assumption of public authority, the Austrian newspaper Kurier reported.

    The case was brought after the eight called themselves the "International Common Law Court of Justice" and organized a court hearing for alleged crimes against humanity against an attorney working in Waldviertel, Lower Austria, in July 2014. 

    The attorney had been appointed the legal guardian of an OPPT member, but the OPPT forced her to give up the position after threatening her with arrest and imprisonment. The defendants also handed over an "International Arrest Warrant" to local police and organized a court hearing at an old farm in Waidhofen an der Thaya, where around 200 people were present.

    In November, an Austrian army officer was unmasked as a member of the OPPT and suspended from his position, the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper reported.

    Rudolf Striedinger, head of the Abwahramt (AbwA), one of two intelligence services of the Austrian Armed Forces,  said that members of the OPPT movement represent a subversive, "serious threat" to the armed forces.

    According to Austria's Federal Office for Constitutional Protection and the Fight against Terrorism (BAT), the security forces know of around 800 people with links to organizations of state denial. The Federal Ministry of the Interior estimates that Austria has around 22,000 sympathizers of such movements.

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