Russian FSB detains "Ukrainian neo-nazis" from extremist MKU

Detention of members of MKU extremist organization. Photo: FSB 

Russia

Article by: Yuliia Rudenko
Edited by: Alya Shandra
On 13 December, the Russian FSB reported on detaining 106 Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” from the terrorist group “Maniacs. Cult of killers” (MKU), in 37 regions of Russia. Since the beginning of 2021, the FSB has reported on several large-scale security operations for the arrest of around 60 MKU’s members. There’s a caveat, though. Nobody can find evidence of the MKU’s existence – except the FSB.

As the FSB claim, these arrests were aimed to suppress the MKU’s all-Russian online action containing orders to commit terrorist attacks and mass killings. Among the arrestees were three managers of the MKU’s internet channels propagating extremism and violence and two persons who had prepared for armed attacks on educational institutions, said the FSB. Allegedly, the security services found hunting weapons and ammunition, pistols, rifles, steel weapons, and tear gas canisters.

What do we know about the MKU?

The MKU first appeared in the Russian media landscape in early 2021, after the arrest of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. Pro-government Telegram channels Rokot, Kremlin Prachka, Argumenty i Fakty, and the TV-channel Russia-24 started mentioning the organization.

Argumenty i Fakty, Moscow-based state’s newspapers described MKU as a neo-Nazi organization created in Ukraine.

“Their ideology is based on the quest of killing persons living asocial lives and having non-Slavic appearance (the homeless, alcohol and drug addicts, labour migrants and others),” wrote the newspaper.

According to the Kremlin, the organization was set up by Yehor Krasnov, a Ukrainian national born in 2000, who acts under the cloak of official Kyiv. The organization is thought to have acted in Ukraine first and then expanded in Russia. Krasnov, allegedly, is a defendant in ten criminal cases in Russia and involved in 11 murders in the country.

Yehor Krasnov, leader of "Ukrainian extremist organization" MKU

Yehor Krasnov, leader of extremist organization MKU. Photo: FSB

The FSB tried to present to the audience evidence proving the existence of MKU. State-run channels featured a member of the organization, 25-year-old Aleksei Narziayev. However, BBC failed to obtain any information on the alleged terrorist.

Another proof of the MKU’s existence Moscow showed is a press release covering the detention of three members of the purported Ukrainian radical neo-Nazi organization in Voronezh Oblast, Russia. They were charged with extremism for drawing some words on houses and fences. Notably, Facebook referred to this as fake news and banned reposts of the press release.

According to the girlfriend of Aleksandr Simonov, one of the detainees, he did adhere to nationalist views but was not a member of any Ukrainian organization.

As for another detainee of the case, Roman Grebenshchikov, he claimed that he had no idea why the FSB attached him to Ukraine.

Materials the FSB confiscated in the operation against the MKU, "Ukrainian neo-nazi organization"

Materials the FSB confiscated in the operation against the MKU. Photo: FSB

The three men arrested in Voronezh were, in fact, members of Russkiy Korpus, a Russian nationalist organization.

One of its leaders Danila Kniazev said, the affiliation launched their own investigation and found out the three men were captured for a sign “Russia for Russian.”

“[B]ut how does that make them related to Ukraine?” Kniazev asks.

He further notes that one of the leaders of Russkiy Korpus fought on the side of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

“Now, all Ukrainian nationalist movements are anti-Russian, how Russian nationalists could be supporters of some Ukrainian nationalists, I do not understand [it].”

So is the MKU not real?

Ukrainian journalist Kateryna Sergatskova, who has researched Ukrainian far-right groups, told BBC she had never heard of MKU.

And according to Artem Skoropadskyi, a member of Right Sector, a right-wing Ukrainian nationalist movement, there are no Ukrainian right-wing groups in Russia.

But BBC found that MKU does exist in the form of a private group in VKontakte Russian social media banned in Ukraine, with 13 subscribers. Once Yehor Krasnov, a Ukrainian citizen, moderated the community. There, he posted videos of attacks committed by unknown people against the homeless or alcohol addicts. The Ukrainian police detained the 19-year-old man when he stabbed a man in the street. Since then, Krasnov has been imprisoned in Ukraine.

An anonymous representative of a Russian nationalist organization called Ethnic National Movement (ENO) told BBC that MKU was a group of teenagers who were not admitted to ENO because of their young age.

“To claim that they were created by someone from Ukraine and financed is foolish,” he adds.

Russian nationalists from the Ethnic National Movement claim that the three men detained in Voronezh are innocent and the FSB arrested them for pragmatic reasons:

“[They] could liken also ordinary people to such a movement to collect stars for their shoulder straps [to improve] the statistics. It is also no secret that the repressive authorities commit such acts of falsehood.”

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Edited by: Alya Shandra
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