Could Russia’s 50 thousand-strong Donbas veterans organization become a Russian Freikorps?

One of the groups of Russian special forces and mercenaries that started the Russian invasion in Donbas, Ukraine

One of the groups of Russian special forces and mercenaries that started the Russian invasion in Donbas, Ukraine 

2015/08/30 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Aleksandr Boroday, the former prime minister of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk Peoples Republic,” says he is seeking official registration in Moscow for an organization that would speak for the 30,000 to 50,000 Russian “volunteers” who have fought in Ukraine.

Boroday

Boroday

Some undoubtedly will see this as yet another indication that far more people have gone from Russia to fight in Ukraine. Others will view it as a propaganda effort to cover the presence of regular Russian troops in Ukraine. And still a third group will view this step as a way of controlling these people and preventing them from setting off a crime wave.

But there is a more sinister possibility, one that should not be discounted, and that is this: such a group could become the basis for the formation of paramilitary groups like the Freikorps in Germany at the end of World War I, contributed to the destabilization and neighboring countries, and from which emerged some of Hitler’s most ardent supporters.

At a Moscow press conference yesterday, Boroday said that he had filed documents with the Russian justice ministry seeking registration already on July 2. And he said that his group would “defend the volunteers and help the families of those who died and the people of the Donbas.”

“Russian volunteers,” he continued, “are socially active people, they are united by the idea of Russian patriotism and are ready as fighters for the Russian world. But they have no social defense.” Consequently, they must unite “and help one another.” The Union of Volunteers of the Donbas does not plan to have anything to do with the Committee of Salvation of Ukraine.

In addition, the former “DNR” leader said, “the organization will have exclusively a social direction without any political goals, does not plan any political activities, does not seek election to the Duma … and counts on the patriotic attitudes of representatives of business, as there is no state support.”

Boroday’s words, however, are not as reassuring as he would perhaps like them to be. First, the “socially active” and military experienced Donbas volunteers are unlikely to be satisfied with becoming some sort of mutual assistance organization. At least some of them are likely to act more boldly than that.

Second, such an organization whatever its leader says is inevitably going to help ensure that its members stay in touch with one another, something that means in Russia now, the authorities are going to have to deal with not individual Donbas veterans as they earlier had to cope with Afgantsy but with a group. [“Afgantsy” is a Russian slang name for veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan – Ed.]

And third, Boroday’s reference to the notion that businesses are going to fund his group should set off alarm bells: that is exactly how some of the Freikorps groups were financed in Germany and neighboring countries at the end and immediately after World War I when some business leaders used them for their own narrow interests.

But there is a still more ominous possibility: Vladimir Putin might be quite pleased to use such groups to attack his opponents giving him the kind of plausible deniability he has used so successfully in the past. If that happens, then no one in Russia is safe given that there may be as many as 50,000 of these people spread across the country.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Brent

    Free Ukraine from Putin’s terrorists

    • Brent

      FREE NADIA SAVCHENKO, ESTON KOVHER, OLEG SENTSOV, ALEKSANDR KOLCHENKO AND ALL THE OTHERS ILLEGALLY KIDNAPPED BY RUSSIA AND TAKEN THERE FOR FARCICAL SHOW TRIALS.

      • AMERICAN VIEW !!

        Freeing Nadia Savchenko is an issue for ALL Ukrainians, you stupid russian troll. Now you have shown your true colors. If it smells like a pig it must be a russian swine.

  • AMERICAN VIEW !!

    Are you a russian troll. Then stop repeating your dribble. Who are you working for.

    • laker48

      Just for sporting Che Guevara’s mug on his T-shirt this guy deserves a jail term, as Che Guevera was one of the most outrageous and despicable mass murderers and criminals against humanity, especially as a minister in the Castro government in Cuba where he ordered thousands of innocent victims summarily executed by firing squad.

      • laker48

        He can’t expect to be above the law. If the penalty is three or five years in jail, such is the law. Jehova Witnesses also were pacifists and they were routinely sent to jail for three years. A Che Guevera lover deserves an extra year of rehabilitation.

    • Racquel

      You’re not going to get much support referring people to someone draped in a Che Guevara shirt.

      • Racquel

        Nobody’s going to lift the cover of your book, let alone read it, with him donning this shirt unless they support policies like Che’s. It’s offensive.

        • Racquel

          Excuse me but my hat’s off to anyone who killed that POS. “Another innocent life”? You’re throwing out the oars now. It really is pathetic seeing clueless or even pseudo intellectuals wearing Che T-shirts as if he stood for something, anything positive. Your friend wouldn’t leave Little Havana with that shirt still intact. We will agree to disagree and leave it at that.

  • AMERICAN VIEW !!

    Maybe Putin should be worried about some of these Russian mercenaries returning home to Russia and banding together. They could pose a serious threat to putin’s dictatorial control inside russia.

    • laker48

      If he broke the law, he suffers the consequences.

      • laker48

        Yes, he did as did the US draft dodgers who either went to jail or escaped to Canada. Those living in Canada have never been pardoned and only the statute of limitation has saved them from prosecution and jail in the US. I live in Canada and know tens of US Vietnam draft dodgers living here. You’re grossly misinformed.

  • laker48

    Well, Pitin’s alias “Putler” would make sense.

    • BCHistorian

      Ivan, your bleats about Kotsaba is very reminiscent of the attempts of the Cuban authorities to talk about 5 Cubans imprisoned in US jails. They call them political prisoners. Of course, no mention of the thousands that have been jailed and persecuted in Cuba over the years for anti-communist sympathies.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    The Freikorps which formed in Germany at the end of WW1 were primarily active in fighting against power grabs by Reds/Communists in Berlin, Munich and other cities and towns in Germany, though some also fought defending what they considered German territory against primarily Poland, and in the Baltics to maintain German influence.
    The dwarf would do well to remember that the Freikorps, although officially disbanded in 1923 at the latest, fought INTERNAL enemies first and foremost. Borodai’s club could well do the same and the dwarf could be its primary target. The difference is that, unlike Weimar which lacked a strong state, Dwarfstan is controlled by the FSB and the Chekisti will stomp on any opposition, armed or unarmed, PDQ. The dwarf will not hesitate to bump off anybody who threatens his position.
    Another point to remember is that Dwarfstan is a huge country; its members will be spread all over the place and not easily concentrated quickly.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Very commendable, I’m sure, but what does this have to do with the subject of the article?

  • laker48

    Putin started grasping for straws, but it’s doubtful he’ll be able to stop the freefall of Russia’s economy. China’s cold may cause Russia’s death of pneumonia.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    How many of the 30-50,000 Dwarfstanians who terrorised the Donbas would actually become an active member of Borodai’s Freikorps (Freikorpski?)? Those that returned as invalids can be counted out. Many others will have been disillusioned by the war, the corruption in the DNR and LNR and they probably won’t join either. My guess is that at best half will join,scattered all over the country though with concentrations in the larger cities such as Moscow or St. Petersburg. I don’t think the FSB would have too much trouble dealing with them should they try any funny stuff.