SARFAN fans! Join us today on a round-about journey to try and make one point clear: The Kremlin is actively using neo-Nazi groups to help achieve their expansionist goals while likely also maintain neo-Nazis within their ranks. A bold claim, I know, but bear with us.
Would you be surprised to find a group where can openly support both neo-Nazi ideologies and the Kremlin? A place where glorifying Hitler, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, and van-bomb aficionado Anders Breivik are the norm? Attend private neo-Nazi concerts, host classes on ‘racial theory’, and receive firearms training with like-minded individuals? If you’ve been paying any attention to our site and these articles, then none of you should be surprised by this long-winded rhetorical question, and we’re sorry for making you endure it to get the point. There is of course such a group, the Russian neo-Nazi group Wotanjugend lead by Ivan Mikheev and Alexey Levkin.
What might be a little jarring for our readers is that many far-right Russian nationalists have actually been anti-Kremlin and against Putin due to their perception that he was soft on immigration, a point they make clear in annual protest marches in Moscow. While readers would be correct in pointing out that many far-right Russians were a major component of the problems that boiled over within Eastern Ukraine and were also part of the forces fighting in Donbas alongside Russia , there were also small factions within the far-right movement that supported the Maidan Nezalezhnosti protests that eventually turned into the February 2014 revolution and have since found a niche within the Ukraine to operate and spread their far-right ideology while fighting against their fellow Russians. Within this small group were Wotanjugend leaders Ivan Mikheev and Alexey Levkin who found themselves in Donbas late 2014 and remained for the next few years, mixed in with local Ukrainian far-right groups like the notorious Azov Battalion known for their sizeable neo-Nazi adherents within their ranks.
Wotanjugend was created during the beginning of the millennium in the neo-Nazi music scene. Most its content is online and exclusively Russian. Levkin during a 2016 interview explained why he created the group, “we created our online resource as a mini-university for supporters of right-wing ideology” and “a resource where our readers can obtain exhaustive information on the widest range of topics as far as right-wing worldview is concerned,” including what he dubbed “acts of heroism by Europeans.” In an interview in January 2019, Levkin described Wotanjugend as mostly an online entity, one that was “way too hardcore to be represented in the public sphere” as an active physical organization. In its place, Levkin argued that “there’s already a movement that deserves support… I’m talking about [Azov’s] National Corps and the National Militia as the former’s power wing.” As we mentioned earlier, most Azov related entities are heavily influenced by neo-Nazi ideology, which makes sense given their close association with Wotanjugend.
As we stated, Wotanjugend was created during the neo-Nazi music scene. They congregate during neo-Nazi concerts across Europe, but also dabble in activities outside of just concerts and propaganda. In August 2019, a claimed 50 participants took part in Wotanjugend’s “Thule Signal” event, where they attended lectures on “racial theory”, received firearms training, and even took part in a mock knife fight tournament filled with Azov chest salutes and Azov handshakes.
Now I know this must seem kind of disjointed, what’s the significance of a group of neo-Nazis from Russia fighting and proliferating in the Ukraine, actively opposing the Kremlin and seemingly operating independent of any Russian influence? Well SARFAN fans, that’s where I ask you to put on your thinking caps and see if this line of thought makes any sense: what if the Kremlin actively supported this neo-Nazi group while they formed in Russia and used their spread into the Ukraine as an excuse to invade Crimea and fight in eastern Ukraine? While it might not have been all because of Wotanjugend, groups like them certainly helped the Kremlin’s case when they wanted to support their expansionist goals. It might also seem far-fetched if the Russia had not already had a history of painting Ukraine independent movements as fascist ever since World War II. Russia even had the nerve to criticize wartime Nazi collaboration of various Ukrainian independence leaders while trying to whitewash their own alliance with Hitler. In the post-Soviet era, Kremlin media outlets had started a campaign of painting Ukrainians as fascists in 2004. So, to see how things eventually played out with the Russian invasion, I think it’s fair to say that this is an example of the Kremlin trying to expedite things and using these homegrown neo-Nazi groups to accelerate their goals. What do you think SARFAN fans? Am I off-base, or are we starting to make sense here? By this point not only are they using and aiding neo-Nazis, I think it’s highly likely that they maintain several neo-Nazis throughout their ranks as we’ve seen with high-profile individuals highlighted in the past. We must continue to shine a light on these individuals and hope that this information makes a difference. As always, stay informed, be safe, and if you have any ideas for articles in the future, please reach out! Also we’re trying to be more active on Twitter, so if you’d like to give us a follow reach out @SARFAN_Jan.