The group E.N.O.T. Corps is a group of irregular fighters who fought in Ukraine alongside the “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” (“DNR” and “LNR”) and Russian troops. From 21-22 November they held a training camp and “military games” at a Russian Orthodox Church. This is not the first time that E.N.O.T. has held similar events on Church property, but this time photos and videos of the event belie any possibility that the Church was not involved in the terrorist training event. The event was held at the Church of St. Nikita the Martyr in the small town of Byvalino, located about 80 km East of Moscow (homepage for the Church is here: nikita-byvalino.ru).
InformNapalm has an engrossing article about E.N.O.T. Corps and other Russian “private military companies” and their relationship to Russian security organs and the legal framework supposedly used to govern these groups. Calling them “private military companies” may be legally correct but confuses the issue. This activity, and others similar to it, could be an attempt by the Russian state to imitate Iran’s strategic success building and using irregular militias in the Middle East. The “Russian Hizballah” was not as effective as planned in Ukraine in 2014, and had to be rescued by regular Russian troops, but the war is not over, and irregular groups like the ones used in Donbas are now fighting in Syria, and could potentially head wherever Russia needs boots-on-the-ground and implausible deniability. As with the last training event by E.N.O.T., the Kremlin operative and former DNR “Prime Minister” Alexander Borodai was present at this event.
E.N.O.T. Corps and groups like it are non-state (or, officially
non-state) military groups that take part in violent activities in other countries that are (officially) not sanctioned by any state. According to a recent article in stopterror.in.ua, the group has eliminated pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine that did not toe the line and join the appropriate fighting groups when Moscow said so.
They have posted videos online showing them training irregular soldiers in Eastern Ukraine from the same groups that kill Ukrainians who do not cooperate politically with the Russian invasion. E.N.O.T’s postings on social media are steeped in a radical Russian Orthodox outlook. In fact, in October they complained that the fight in Eastern Ukraine was not considered a “Holy War” by the Russian Orthodox Church (previous article about this here, towards the bottom.)
In sum, if one were to say that E.N.O.T Corps is not a terrorist group, one would have to define “terrorism” in a very unusual way. One wonders if E.N.O.T Corps would be listed as a terrorist group if it conducted the exact same activities but was a Muslim group rather than a Christian group.
Does the Russian Orthodox Church support E.N.O.T Corps and groups like it? If not, perhaps they can politely ask them to not hold terrorist training camps on church property, or at least admonish them against mutilating corpses found on a battlefield.