Some of the leaders of the Russian far-right are close friends with the authorities of the Russian state; some have been sitting inside the offices for a long time. These far-right friends are a very important resource. In the entire political arena of the past and present, the leadership of Russia has valued them the most: they could do dirty work, or become good support. The experience of many people suggests that the right-wing radicals in power are a terrible force.
It’s important right now to tell about the people whose hearts are filled with destructive and dystopian ideas and not just run-of-the-mill conservative sadism and xenophobia. Among the most famous people in the state, there are three with dangerous views: someone is responsible for the conquest of space (there was a time when Dmitry Rogozin handed over his Twitter account to Roscosmos, and tweets like “We are Russian, God with us!” and “I would change now, without thinking for a second, all my positions for the happiness of being in the same trenches with the defenders of Slovyansk” or tweets with homophobic, anti-American subtext blew up the Internet), someone is responsible for brainwashing, and someone is serving as Rasputin for Putin.
The main weapon for the Russian authorities is the violence of informal organizations, which are used internally for organized attacks and assassinations inside Russia. With Europe, everything is easier — support goes towards large far-right parties, which receive lots of money and lucrative trade contracts. These relationships reveal the essence of the Kremlin’s geopolitical ambitions and the history of friendship between Russian right-wing radicals and the state.
Pogroms and beatings of migrants
In the 00s, the skinhead movement was still forming, including boneheads. Mostly they were engaged in beating migrants; foreign students became one of the main targets. This is when the first examples of well-organized attacks appeared. Racist skinheads from St. Petersburg regularly beat foreign students from the First Pavlov State Medical University. Similar attacks occurred in other cities too, and the inaction of the authorities and the ignorance of the problem by university bureaucrats forced foreigners to start leaving the country en masse. Young blood was very attractive to small far-right parties and neo-pagan groups; their desire for ideological violence and loyalty allowed “big” people to manipulate them.
Radical methods of getting rid of “outsiders” aroused sympathy among some police officers and officials. Opinion polls in the early 00s showed that the highest level of xenophobia — up to 73% — towards migrants was regularly observed among the military and police. This was confirmed by a unique study among law enforcement officials conducted by the Levada Center in the fall of 2005. It found that up to 40% of police officers shared the slogan “Russia for Russians,” and 67% were irritated with people from the Caucasus. Xenophobia brought people closer together, For example, the ideologist of Russianism, Aleksandr Ivanov-Sukharevsky, liked to brag about respect and support from siloviks (securocrats), and the Ministry of Internal Affairs tried to recruit skinheads. The 2001 trial of two policemen who beat an immigrant showed that some police officers maintain close contact with RNU and WP skinheads, not to mention that they share their views.
On October 30, 2001, a major event took place in the history of the right-wing movement. The pogrom of a small wholesale market took place near the Tsaritsyno metro station. This happened at 20.00 — 20.20 and, during this time, a large group of pogromists (at least 300-500 people) broke into the market through the main entrance and in a few minutes destroyed several dozen trade pavilions and stalls. They actively used fittings and metal rods, killing three people. What was the most interesting? The riot was ordered by the pro-Kremlin movement Walking Together. According to one version, the FSB, through their mediation, was preparing skinheads to crack down on anti-globalists who were allegedly going to Moscow. However, since they did not appear, and there was no order to cancel “the outrage,” racist skins decided to use their energy against migrants.
The involvement of Walking Together was declared by the skinheads themselves, and the accused in the case of the Tsaritsyn pogrom, Mikhail Volkov, had a bunch of phone numbers connected to Walking Together in his notebook. The investigation found that on October 30 Volkov called someone on the phone and was asking if there were anti-fascists on Tverskaya street. After learning the anti-fascists weren’t out, the skins turned on the market. Patrick — Volkov’s nickname — was also the leader of the OB-88 group, which the authorities framed that day.
OB-88 was indeed the only movement that fell under the roller of repression. For example, members of the Ivanov-Sukharevsky NNP got off with only a slight shock thanks to the patronage by siloviks. At that time, the NNP was the largest right-wing organization working with the boneheads. They published their newspaper “I am Russian,” recruited skinheads and football hooligans, conducted training sessions with the OMON, and were involved in pogroms and fights. After the explosion at the headquarters of the NNP, their activity decreased.
After the pogrom, the activities of OB-88 went to naught too, but its core simply went underground. Walking Together eventually disappeared, becoming famous for book burnings and the peculiar struggle for morality. In 2005 they were reorganized into Nashi under the past leader Vasily Yakemenko.
The Nazi-skinheads movement was scattered; for the most part, they were small groups. Crime news about another beating or murder of a migrant appeared often in the media; it is very difficult to talk about each case. After the mid-00s, the next wave began and it can be characterized by even greater cruelty and a wider scale.
Formation of BORN
Combat Organization of Russian Nationalists (Russian: БОРН, Боевая Организация Русских Националистов) is a criminal far-right group responsible for murder and banditry. They are involved in the murders of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, journalist and eco-anarchist Anastasia Baburova, famous anti-fascists Fyodor Filatov, Ilya Dzhaparidze, Alexander Ryukhin, and Ivan Khutorsky, as well as the judge of the Moscow City Court Eduard Chuvashov, world champion in Thai boxing Muslim Abdullayev, member of the Caucasian nationalist group called “Black Hawks” Rasul Khalilov, taxi driver Sos Sachikyan, and janitor Salohitdin Azizov.
From the materials of the case, the following is clear: the convicts are part of a ramified neo-Nazi underground, connected simultaneously with the Kremlin curators of youth policy, pro-government journalists, employees of the Center for Combating Extremism, and the Ukrainian far-right.
The killer of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova was Nikita Tikhonov, who began his journey with OB-88. There he also met future associates and useful acquaintances — with Patrick, Alexander Parinov, nicknamed “Romanian,” and Alexei Korshunov. At the pagan festivals, Korshunov met a group of neo-Nazis from Dubna and Dmitrov near Moscow. Later, he and Tikhonov would call them “Northern.” They were Maxim Baklagin, Vyacheslav Isaev, and Yuri Tikhomirov, nicknamed “Estonian.” Korshunov recommended them to his friends as reliable and “proven in business.”
Tikhonov met Ilya Goryachev in 2002, in the same year they were in Serbia, where they met the associates of the Orthodox monarchist Nebojsa Krstic and were inspired by the ideas of Pan-Slavism. Returning to Moscow, they begin to publish the “Russian Way” magazine.
“I created “Russian Way“ in 2002 with people from OB-88,” quotes Mediazona Goryachev’s messages to his beloved on ICQ. “We have been preparing for our political expansion for a long time, about five years, and started it in 2008. Experience and contacts have been accumulated in previous years. Let’s just say, why am I not afraid of the FSB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs? Because I have good relations with the country’s leadership, with the presidential administration. And these are very cynical people, they don’t care who we are: Nazis, Satanists, or anyone else. They worked effectively against the enemies, the enemies are ethnic diasporas, liberals, antifa.”
In 2006, Tikhonov and Romanian killed 19-year-old anti-fascist Alexander Ryukhin. Tikhonov and Parinov were hiding from law enforcement officers in Ukraine. Then Tikhonov met Yevgenia Khasis, who became his mistress, and later an accomplice in the murder of Markelov and Baburova.
“Come back, there is work for you,“ Goryachev once wrote in 2007 to Tikhonov. While in another country, Tikhonov got acquainted with the functionaries of the pro-Kremlin movements Young Russia and Locals. He even managed to knock out a small amount of funding to continue the political struggle.
“Having no competitors and being loyal to the authorities, the Russian Way will be able to squeeze out all kinds of Kremlin youth movements, such as Nashi, Young Russia, and Locals,” quotes Autonomous Action Tikhonov’s explanation of Goryachev’s idea.
Goryachev himself was an intellectual who knew how to find a common language and break into the right environment. Even before BORN appeared, he met Leonid Simunin and Alexei Mitryushin, a former chief of the Nashi and one of the leaders of the football hooligans group Gallant Steeds.
In the State Duma, Goryachev and Simunin were friends with United Russia member Maxim Mishchenko, the leader of Young Russia. Alongside the terror, Goryachev, according to Tikhonov, planned to “redirect the activities of the Center for Combating Extremism to antifa, counting on the help of friends in these structures.“ For this, he was looking for information, and then passed it on to law enforcement agencies. In response, they shared information with him.
This is how the data on the place of residence of Fedor “Fedyai“ Filatov, one of the founders of the Moscow SHARP skinheads, was obtained. His murder in October 2008 was the first high-profile crime committed on behalf of BORN. The anti-fascist was stabbed to death in the morning when he was leaving the entrance to work. The killers were Volkov and Tikhonov.
“We also lobbied about the attack with the Cult, so that the native ZOG and the leadership became interested and began to pressure antifa. Roughly speaking, we are now forming a picture of them, which eventually falls on the tables for someone there, and decisions are made based on our info with our recommendations,“ quotes Mediazona Goryachev’s plans.
In early 2009, the murder of Stanislav Markelov was planned. Tikhonov set him under surveillance, and, if possible, wanted to kill him. On January 19, Markelov was at a conference on the Chechen woman Elza Kungaeva, who was killed by Colonel of the Russian army Yuri Budanov. After the event, Khasis, at the request of Tikhonov, followed the lawyer and his companion — an intern at Novaya Gazeta and eco-anarchist Baburova — to the end of Prechistenka street. The killer attacked Markelov and Baburova and fired two shots from a Browning in their heads. Markelov died on the spot, Baburova died in the hospital in the evening of the same day.
The resonance was significant and attracted a lot of attention from both the authorities and the international community. Because of this, Goryachev asked his comrades-in-arms to stop attacks on anti-fascists, because the reaction of the curators from above was negative. The neo-Nazis disobeyed and began to act further.
Ilya Japaridze became the next active anti-fascist after Fedyai, that the BORN participants decided to kill. He was killed on June 27, 2009, in Moscow by neo-Nazis from the “Northern.” Tikhomirov shot Ilya in the head with an Osa, but he did not lose consciousness. Then Maxim Baklagin stabbed the victim with a knife, and Ilya died from his wounds in the hospital.
At the end of the summer of 2009, the case of the Black Hawks gang, which attacked young people of Slavic appearance, became resonant. “Not all of them even ended up in custody, some went on the travel ban, and according to our practice, this means a suspended sentence in the future. They were not charged with creating an extremist community and banditry. These are double standards,” — Tikhonov was indignant then. Goryachev found addresses and photos of two people who lived in Otradnoye District. They were put under surveillance. One of the tracked down Black Hawks — Rasul Khalilov — was shot by Volkov.
— Did you notice? Every autumn I have an aggravation))), quotes Mediazona Nikita Tikhonov messages on October 10, 2009, exactly one year after Filatov’s murder.
— )) Beginning of a new working cycle), Goryachev jokes in response.
In October 2009, Stanislav Markelov’s brother Mikhail announced that he knew the names and whereabouts of the organizers of the murder. He said that he had conducted his own investigation of the crime and its results fully coincided with the conclusions of the investigators. On November 3, Tikhonov and Khasis were detained, and Korshunov became involved in the following murders.
The next victim was the anti-fascist and organizer of the anti-fascist mixed martial arts tournaments “No surrender” Ivan Khutorskoy. After finding the address using telephone databases, Tikhonov planned an attack on Khutorsky, but because of the arrest, Korshunov became the executor. He called his friends from the Northern — Baklagin and Isaev, — who played the role of accomplices and watched Khutorsky.
Ivan went into the entrance, followed by Korshunov. Having approached the anti-fascist, he fired twice. One bullet hit in the neck, the other in the back of the head. Khutorskoy died of his wounds.
The next day, the antifa defiantly destroyed the reception room of United Russia member Maxim Mishchenko. As later became clear from the testimony of Tikhonov, Simunin’s office was in the same building, and that’s where the pro-Kremlin politician asked the nationalist to help with collecting debts and get him a Glock pistol. Korshunov took over the role of the leader of the group.
In December 2009, Thai boxing champion Muslim Abdullayev was killed. April 12, 2010 — the murder of judge Eduard Chuvashov, who had previously led the process of boneheads from the White Wolves gang. September 15, 2010 — the murder of the taxi driver Sos Sachikyan. March 2, 2011 — an attempt on the life of the district police officer Gagik Benyaminyan.
The criminal cases on the murder of Khutorsky and Chuvashov were combined — the examination established that the victims were killed from one 7.62 mm caliber Nagant. According to investigators, Korshunov shot in both cases. He was put on the federal wanted list and had to hide in the neighboring regions of Moscow, and then he left for Ukraine.
On October 4, 2011, his body, covered with swastikas and oak wreaths, was found in Zaporizhzhia. The killer of Khutorsky and Chuvashov was blown up while jogging at the school stadium on his own grenade, which he carried in case of a raid: Korshunov did not want to be taken alive.
In May 2011, Tikhonov was sentenced to life imprisonment and Khasis to 18 years in prison. Baklagin and Isaev were detained in June 2012, which became possible due to the help of the investigation by Nikita Tikhonov. Both were given life sentences. A year later, Volkov was arrested in Ukraine, was extradited back, and was sentenced to 25 years. Tikhomirov was given 10 years. So, they sorted it out, but what happened to Goryachev, who led dossiers on anti-fascists and contacted the authorities?
Goryachev tried to throw off the accusations, leaked his associates, and after another confessionary testimony against Tikhonov left for Serbia. In May 2013, he was extradited at the request of Russia, and the charges were based on the testimony of Tikhonov and Khasis. Goryachev was suspected of involvement in the murders of Stanislav Markelov, Fyodor Filatov, Ilya Dzhaparidze, Rasul Khalilov, and Salakhedin Azizov. Two years later, he was sentenced to life imprisonment; the main evidence in the case was his personal correspondence with associates.
During the three trials, Pavel Karpov, Leonid Simunin, Vasily Yakimenko, Alexei Mitryushin, and Maxim Mishchenko were named as possible curators of BORN. All were associated with the pro-Kremlin youth movements, and the first two then worked in Novorossiya.
“Goryachev was supposed to put forward certain requirements for Leonid Simunin and the Presidential Administration based on the results of this crime [the murder of Markelov and Baburova]. Requirements about, let’s say, the possibilities for further expansion of the organization. That is, to take some next steps towards the creation of a political party, since, according to the idea, the murder of Stanislav Markelov should have really been very loud,” quotes Readovka Yevgenia Khasis words.
Obviously, the investigation did not touch the curators and put an end to the gang members. They are still afloat, but they no longer do such things. This is where the history of BORN ends, as one of the loudest and most scandalous far-right groups in modern Russia.
How the Kremlin gets along with foreign far-rightists
The Kremlin is a huge imperialist machine, ready to find any secret ways to achieve the necessary geopolitical results. Maybe an alliance with native radicals is not so important, but the use of foreign parties and activists is a good way to advance one’s intentions. Besides protecting their interests, this allows them to undermine regimes hostile to Moscow and to disrupt the unity of the Western world.
In the summer of 2019, a major scandal was brewing with the Italian nationalist Lega Nord party and funding from Russia. At the center of the scandal then was Gianluca Savoini, an assistant to the far-right leader Matteo Salvini. In 2018 alone, Salvini’s comrade in the party flew to Russia at least 14 times, which became known from the data of booking systems.
The main evidence of the scandal is an audio recording of a conversation between Russians and Italians in October 2018 at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. The negotiations lasted more than an hour, the focus of the discussion was the purchase of at least three million tons of Russian oil by the Italian oil company Eni during the year. Rosneft or Lukoil were considered as the selling company. The deal was to amount to about $ 1.5 billion, and the purchase and sale were to go through intermediary companies. The money from the deal would go to the Lega.
“We want to change Europe. A new Europe has to be close to Russia as before because we want to have our sovereignty,” said Gianluca Savoini in an audio recording.
Naturally, the Lega denied all accusations, and Savoini called the recording of the negotiations “a fantasy.” The party itself was marked by the protection of Russia and advocated the lifting of sanctions against Russia, while in Italy it tried to ban the rescue of drowning refugees in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, the investigation was limited to a single case in the Metropol Hotel; the local prosecutor’s office did not find other facts and evidence to initiate a case for sponsoring the party from abroad.
A couple of months before that, another interesting story was revealed — a video showed up of a meeting of the ex-Vice-Chancellor of Austria and the leader of the Freedom Party of Austria Heinz-Christian Strache with a woman who introduced herself as the niece of a Russian oligarch. Strache himself told her about how he captured the Austrian press and about his contracts with Russian oligarchs. He promised the girl to receive lucrative construction contracts and the purchase of local media in exchange for funding his party.
The recording was made in Ibiza in the summer of 2017, and a possible interlocutor of Strache is a relative of businessman Igor Makarov, who is engaged in the oil and gas business. After the scandal, Strache resigned, which is why early parliamentary elections were announced and the result was the victory of the Freedom Party of Austria.
What the two cases have in common is the fact that they receive funding through fraud and twisted paths. The French did a simpler thing — Marine Le Pen has everything open, funding by Russian banks to her party was confirmed long ago. In 2014, the Front National party received a loan from the First Czech-Russian Bank of 9 million euros, the bank belonged to the oligarch Gennady Timchenko. After 3 years, campaign-related re-funding was discovered. The funding came in exchange for Le Pen’s support for the pro-Russian position on the “Ukrainian question.”
When Russia came to the rescue, Le Pen abruptly changed her rhetoric, beginning to promise the recognition of Crimea by Russia and the lifting of sanctions. However, the promises were not fulfilled, she lost the presidential race, and the party did not return the money. In February of this year, the company Aviazapchast, which owns a long-closed bank, decided to file a lawsuit against the party, but it seems without success.
In 2014, there was another scandal — Bela Kovacs, a member of the European Parliament from the Hungarian radical right-wing party Jobbik, was accused of spying for Russia. An investigation by Hungarian journalists suggests that Kovacs often met with Russian diplomats in a conspiratorial manner and visited Moscow every month. Along with this, the Jobbik party was accused of receiving financing from Russia and Iran.
Because of his past and his wife’s alleged work at the KGB, Kovach was nicknamed “KGBela.” He has long been a private sponsor of the party, but the origin of his large funds is a mystery. Where did the insiders come from? Hungarian counterintelligence had already followed him, planning to catch him red-handed, but the leak that had occurred before that thwarted all plans. The KGBela case was closed, as it was deprived of evidence of espionage.
These four cases are not the only ones, because the Kremlin’s ambitions are large-scale. Over the past decade, the far-right parties in Europe have grown stronger, and this cannot but be linked to secret funding and propaganda.
Why does the Kremlin finance the right-wing opposition? The far-right in Europe is closest to the ideology of the Kremlin, when Russia begins to feed nationalist politicians with money, they immediately open their mouths about Crimea and sanctions. Another regularity is manifested in the fact that there is no benefit from this — politicians and parties are calmly adjusting their personal situation. Numerous scandals expose the characteristic carelessness of lobbyists, allowing only opponents of the far-right to get to the top.
Are they a serious force for the state in general? Yes, their loyalty to the system makes it possible to control such power, and their ruthlessness to direct them in the right way. On the internal political field of Russia, the rightist extremists disappeared long ago, everyone who refused to be friends with the system was repressed or was used and thrown out. The Russian state was also disappointed in foreign radicals, due to numerous revelations. Whether the authorities will continue to be interested in the far-right — we will find out in the future.