SARFAN fans! We’ve got another individual of interest for you all. It should come as no surprise to anyone that this man is another notorious neo-Nazi gainfully employed and support by the Russian state.
Elusive and camera-shy, Dmitry Utkin is a career officer who had seen first-hand military action in both of the Chechen wars. As we mentioned above, Utkin is a longtime Russian neo-Nazi, known for his admiration of Nazi Germany, and a Russian GRU Spetsnaz officer in the 2000s. Utkin created PMC Wagner Group in 2014, a notorious mercenary group longtime readers will no doubt be familiar with, and currently serves as its operational commander. What most don’t know is that Utkin named the PMC after Hitler’s favorite German composer, Richard Wagner, and as such some Russian mercenaries have Wagner tattoos or use his likeness as avatars online. Wagner-associated VK web page Reverse Side of the Medal (RSOTM), a group we briefly discussed in our Search Terms entry, and other Russian neo-Nazi pages actively praise Utkin for flaunting their deplorable ideology.
With that brief background, I’m sure you attentive readers can already guess that due to his love of Hitler and Nazism that Utkin of course has neo-Nazi tattoos, something he isn’t exactly trying to promote. Now, why go through the trouble of creating a PMC as an homage to Hitler and Nazism, tatting yourself up with Nazi iconography, and then becoming shy about your ideology? Well it’s like because Putin himself has come out in public to denounce Nazism. Why then does Putin and the Kremlin continue to support Utkin while denouncing Nazism? Seems like something they should probably explain or clarify, I’m sure many people are confused about the hypocrisy of such a stance.
As we dug deeper into Utkin and his history, we tried looking into his ties with the GRU. In phone intercepts published by Ukraine’s Security Service (Sluzhba bezpeky Ukrayiny, SBU), Utkin was heard reporting to a man named Oleg Ivannikov on the progress of military activities in Eastern Ukraine at the time of the battle for Debaltseve in February of 2015. Ivannikov is identified as a senior GRU officer who helped procure at least one Buk missile system for the militants in Donbass in the days before the downing of flight MH17, the tragedy we covered last week that our friend Oleg Muzyka continues to deny on behalf of the Russian government. In another intercept from the same period, Utkin is heard reporting to Andrey Troshev, a former police colonel from St. Petersburg. In that call, Utkin despondently complains to Colonel Troshev that he has lost count of how many casualties his unit has suffered, and begs to be recalled back to Russia for fear of being killed himself by his own mutinous soldiers. A third intercept from early 2015 shows Utkin taking instructions and coordinating the mercenaries’ working directly for Major General Evgeniy Nikiforov, the former chief of staff of the 58th Western Army.
It is clear from the context of these calls that Utkin appears to be subordinated both to the GRU’s Ivannikov and overall to the Russian military command, and that Colonel Troshev is his superior within Wagner Group. Unsurprisingly in March 2016 Colonel Troshev was awarded the Hero of Russia Award for his role as commander of the Wagner Group engaged in supporting government forces in Syria from 2015 through 2016.
According to a memoir by Marat Gabidolin, a former Wagner member who discussed how disguting Utkin was, he stated that Utkin was the one who gave the orders to torture and behead Syrians who decided to defect from Al-Asad’s army, stating “Utkin was the one who ordered the recording of the videos and uploading of them on the internet, so that all servicemen of the Syrian Army could see them.”
All of this evidence and history is presented to you, our readers, so that we can continue asking the big questions. If Putin hired Utkin and the Kremlin knew of his neo-Nazi history, how many more Russians hired by Kremlin are also neo-Nazis? As we’ve already seen, it seems to be quite a bit, and it doesn’t look like this trend will stop anytime soon as these violent ideologues prove useful to the Russian government in fulfilling their foreign policy objectives in their various intrigues overseas. What we hope to do here at SARFAN with the help of our wonderful community is shine a bright light on these vile practices and hope that with enough support people will see this and take action. As always, stay informed, be safe, and if you have any ideas for articles in the future, please reach out!