Republican Sinn Féin will be represented this weekend at a Russian government-funded conference in Moscow alongside a range of separatist groups from around the world.
One of the organisers of the conference, Alexander Ionov of Anti-Globalisation Movement of Russia, is a supporter of Syrian president Bassar Al-Assad who uses photographs of their meetings in his publicity material.
Other groups gathering in Moscow for the Dialogue of Nations expert forum conference include some who challenge the authority of the state in their home nations, sometimes using violence.
The conference organisers have been forced to deny that the Kremlin was using it to make dissident groups from the US and Europe stronger as a means of undermining the west.
Republican Sinn Féin has also dismissed the charge, saying it had sent a representative to Moscow as an exchange-of-views exercise rather than to join any loose coalition to destabilise the west.
Its president, Des Dalton, said the group did not have firm links with the conference organisers and had sent only one delegate – Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais – whose travel he believed had been funded by Republican Sinn Féin.
Mr Dalton said his party was strictly independent and none of its policies and actions relating to its core concern of Irish independence and unification was linked to Russia, its government or its president, Vladimir Putin.
“What agenda may or may not be there from the Russian government or wherever is something that has no influence on us because we have no links with the people that are running this event,” said Mr Dalton.
He added the fact one of the conference organisers was a public admirer of Dr Assad had to be set in the context of how complex the war in Syria was.