In St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region, groups affiliated with neo-Nazis offer “lessons of courage” and “weekend classes” to orphans, troubled adolescents, and cadets. The Dobrovolets [Volunteer] Center and the North Slavic Community maintain close ties to the Russian neo-Nazi organization Rusich, as well as the Union of Donbass Volunteers, whose members have been involved in fighting in Ukraine since 2014 and have repeatedly called for the massacre of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Assault rifles for kids
Neo-Nazis, Sadists and Murderers
Who supports neo-Nazis
Assault rifles for kids
For years, military training programs targeting children in St. Petersburg and the surrounding region have been organized with a focus on children from boarding schools, troubled adolescents, and cadets from various colleges. These training programs are led by mentors from the autonomous non-profit organization (ANO) Center for Special Patriotic and Sports Training Dobrovolets [Volunteer] and the North Slavic Community (NSC). In recent years, their courses have been attended by cadets from the Emergencies Ministry, teenagers from the Russian Search Movement, the Youth Army's “Grom” [Thunder] detachments, DOSAAF detachments, orphans from the Kolpino boarding school, lyceum № 126 students, children from St. Petersburg special school № 1 for teenagers with deviant behavior, and many others.
During classes, the “trainers” dress 10-year-old kids in military uniforms adorned with Z stripes, and instruct them on how to operate an assault rifle:
While the precise number of students who participate in these courses is difficult to ascertain from publicly available sources, it is estimated that several hundred children and adolescents have been involved.
Dobrovolets conducts all these activities with the approval of the authorities and periodically arranges meetings with Governor Alexander Beglov (Governor of Saint Petersburg).
Neo-Nazis, Sadists and Murderers
Dobrovolets is essentially part of the same structure as the North Slavic Community, which positions itself as a “Russian military-patriotic community of modern Cossacks” (how the “Cossacks” ended up in northern Russia, remains unexplained).
Dobrovolets's director, Alexei Savinsky, also known as “Yar,” is a supporter of the far-right Resistance movement, formed by people from DNI (Popular Initiatives Movement), skinheads, and members of the Slavic Union. The movement was founded by Savinsky's friend, Roman Zentsov, who calls himself “Russian Molot” [Russian Jackhammer] and who has said in interview that Russia should be prepared for a war among races and nations.
Alexey Savinsky with the leader of “Resistance” Roman Zentsov
Until quite recently, the Russian authorities held the belief that Zentsov posed a risk to young people, prompting the FSB Directorate in Altai and the regional authorities to issue a memo in January 2012 to local schools and universities. The memo stated: “Dear leaders! The Altai Krai Board of Education and Youth Affairs has received information that a regional branch of the right-wing radical group Resistance had been established in the Altai krai. Its leader, R.P. Zentsov, is conducting meetings with schoolchildren and university students to spread their ideas and attract new supporters under the pretext of promoting a healthy lifestyle among young people to organize master classes in martial arts, including in the Siberian Federal District.”
But after a few years the situation changed, and the right-wing radicals were no longer enemies of the FSB.
Other friends of Savinsky and his movement are members of the neo-Nazi group Rusich, headed by open Hitler supporter, animal abuser and sadist Alexei Milchakov, who likes to take pictures with the severed heads of puppies and, after the war began in Ukraine, with the severed ears of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The NSC and Dobrovolets regularly hold joint military tactical exercises with Rusich.
Alexei Savinsky at joint military tactical exercises with the neo-Nazi Rusich battalion
Savinsky manages training programs for all ages, conducts lectures and meetings, and oversees regular joint exercises with Rusich and the military-patriotic club Armada. But there are other educators on his team as well.
Vladimir “Ulfer” Bakin, who has declared himself the ataman of the “Cossack” North Slavic Community in St. Petersburg, has been actively involved in the occupation of Ukrainian territories since 2014. He is a member of the St. George battalion, a separate Cossack unit, and the Union of Volunteers of Donbass. In the spring of 2022, Bakin fought near Izyum as part of a volunteer unit in the 80th Rifle Battalion of the 20th Russian Army, where he was stationed alongside Rusich fighters and the Rusich reconnaissance unit Zimargl. Bakin frequently attends meetings held by various organizations, including the St. Petersburg Public Chamber and the Wagner Center, as well as lectures given by Cyber Front Z.
Neo-Nazi Vladimir Bakin in front of teenagers he trains
Bakin regularly speaks and appears publicly with another neo-Nazi, Timur “Kiba” Gromov, head of communications for Rusich and Zimargl.
Vladimir “Ulfer” and Timur “Kiba” Gromov (right), head of communications for DSRG “Rusich” / “Zimargl”
Another instructor, Mikhail “Pitbull” Turkanov, is an outspoken neo-Nazi who served time from 2012 to 2017 for kidnapping and extortion. He is also an active participant in Russian aggression in Ukraine. Now Turkanov commands a unit of the Espanjola soccer fans' fighting squad. He is also a member of the Union of Volunteers of Donbass.
Mikhail “Pitbull” Turkanov
The symbols employed by Yar and his fellow fighters are noteworthy. Savinsky's vest bears a chevron adorned with a yellow eight-pointed star on a red background. The creator of this symbol is believed to be Alexei “Dobroslav” Dobrovolsky, the founder of Russian neo-paganism, who proposed it in 1996 as a representation of the battle against the “Jewish yoke.”
In addition to the kolovrat symbol, the neo-Nazi rune and the slogan “I am a Russian occupant” are frequently featured on the chevrons and logos of the Dobrovolets center and the NSC. The vehicles used by these groups in Ukraine are marked with the number “88,” which is a coded salute meaning “Heil Hitler” in neo-Nazi circles. Furthermore, both the NSC and Dobrovolets have adopted the white wolf on a black background symbol of the Resistance movement. The NSC has also openly supported the call of neo-Nazis from Rusich and Zimargl on social media to torture and execute Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Who supports neo-Nazis
The Dobrovolets and NSC organizations are undoubtedly supported by the authorities, not just by Governor Beglov alone. Both are part of the Association of Military Training Centers in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, and rent space from Prigozhin's Wagner Center. They also receive informational support from the Society for the Development of Russian Historical Education “Double-Headed Eagle” (Tsargrad) and Cyber Front Z. Additionally, neo-Nazis often take pictures with St. Petersburg's controversial, homophobic deputy, Milonov.
Savinsky's connections also extend to Alexander Boroday, the former chairman of the Council of Ministers of the “Donetsk People's Republic,” who is currently a member of the State Duma from the United Russia party and the leader of the Donbass Volunteers Union.
Savinsky has been frequently seen at events at the Wagner Center, often alongside other notable individuals such as State Duma deputy Maria Butina, who previously worked as an assistant to the Taganskaya Gang's front man Torshin.
Maria Butina and Alexei Savinsky at the Wagner Center
Konstantin Blokhin, who serves as the deputy chairman of the Commission on Youth Policy, Development of Volunteering, Patriotic Education, and Sports for the St. Petersburg Public Chamber, appears to be the primary liaison between the officials in St. Petersburg and the Dobrovolets and NSC organizations. Blokhin is also the chairman of the board for the public sports movement, “Strong Russia.”
With the support of Governor Beglov, neo-Nazis from the NSC have gained significant influence in St. Petersburg, expanding beyond teaching children to even patrolling the city alongside the police and local authorities. The group has also cultivated close ties with the St. Petersburg police, with sources indicating that Vladimir “Ulfer” Bakin had been in regular communication with Viktor Usanov, the head of the Krasnogvardeysky District Department for Law, Order, and Security in St. Petersburg, since 2016.