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Russian anarchist fights alongside Ukrainian forces with hope of bringing revolution to Russia

Aleksey Makarov, a member of the Ukrainian armed forces in a unit for foreign volunteers, believes that a Ukrainian victory will ignite a revolution in Russia, ultimately leading to the overthrow of Putin’s regime.
Alexey Makarov, Russian man fighting on the side of Ukraine.
Alexey Makarov, Russian man fighting on the side of Ukraine. Source: Screenshot from the video of Civic Council YouTube.
Russian anarchist fights alongside Ukrainian forces with hope of bringing revolution to Russia

Note: This article is based on a video interview of Aleksey Makarov by Russian media Mediazona, translated to English by the Russian emigre anti-Putin organization Civic Council, which recruits Russians to fight alongside the Ukrainian Army and for resistance inside Russia. .

Aleksey Makarov, call sign Shved (The Swede), is a Russian man fighting against the Russian army in Ukraine since the full-scale invasion in 2022. 

Born in Moscow in 1988, as a leftist anarchist, he is fighting with the conviction that a Ukrainian victory will spark a revolution in Russia that can overthrow Putin’s regime. 

Aleksey is a machine gunner in the assault unit of the Siberia Battalion, which was created in 2023 and comprises  Russians, Yakuts, and Buryats serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

When Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in 2022, Makarov was determined to join the Ukrainian resistance. He left Sweden, where he lived for 11 years, and came to Ukraine to fight against the Russian army. That is why his call name is Shved, which translates as “The Swede.” Despite lacking combat experience, Makarov was in good physical condition due to his lifelong involvement in sports.

“I really thought Putin was trying to bargain for some benefits with the West. I didn’t believe that he would declare a full-scale invasion. Anyway, he started it. I was in Sweden when everything started. Since the first hours of the invasion, I searched for the possibility of going to Ukraine,” Makarov said.

He initially planned to join a unit of leftist anarchists his friend Dima Petrov created as part of the Kyiv Territorial Defense. However, when Makarov received approval to enter Ukraine, the unit no longer accepted foreign volunteers. He eventually joined the 95th Separate Polesian Air Assault Brigade as a military volunteer. Later, he joined the Siberia Battalion for Russian volunteers fighting in the Ukrainian army. 

His friend Dima Petrov died defending Ukraine against Russian aggression, and Makarov continued his friend’s vision of creating an anarchist unit in Ukraine and sharing anarchist ideas in the context of the war. 

“I believe that taking part in this war contributes to the revolution’s emergence in Russia and the opportunity to realize our social project,” Makarov said.

He envisions a post-Putin Russia where anarchists can actively work towards creating a society based on self-governance, social justice, and environmental protection principles. This view also includes destroying the Russian police system, which focuses most of its current efforts on suppressing any dissent. 

Makarov believes the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created a new context for the revolutionary struggle of Russians, and that is why he is actively participating in the Ukrainian armed resistance.

“I believe, hope, and am ready to bring the victory closer with my own hands. The victory of the Ukrainian resistance will bring the Russian revolutionary struggle closer. Right now, it’s the main strategy and tactics. If the circumstances change, we will continue our revolutionary struggle against Putinism anyway,” he said.

When asked whether he faces any difficulties interacting with Ukrainian soldiers and medical staff because of his Russian background, Makarov said that his relationships with fellow injured soldiers and hospital staff were without any issues. 

Background

His activities in Russia

Aleksey Makarov was born and raised in Moscow in 1988. 

He became involved in radical leftist political movements in Russia when he was around 18 years old:

  • Vanguard of Red Youth was a communist youth group critical of the Russian government’s policies, particularly those that align with capitalist and neoliberal ideologies. It aimed to promote Marxist-Leninist ideology among young people. 
  • The National Bolshevik Party (NBP) was one of the most prominent opposition groups in the early 2000s. It was against Putin’s rule. The NBP combined elements of far-left and far-right ideologies, advocating for the establishment of a “National Bolshevik state” that would be both socialist and nationalist. In 2007, the Russian Supreme Court banned the party for extremism.
  • He was imprisoned for two years in 2006 for a confrontation with a pro-Kremlin youth movement called Mestnye (Locals).
  • After the NBP was declared an extremist organization, Makarov faced further extremism charges in Russia and decided to flee to Ukraine in January 2009 to avoid another prison sentence.

His activities in Ukraine

  • He was a member of the Ukrainian far-right nationalist organization Bratstvo (Brotherhood). The organization promotes the idea of a Ukrainian national revival and expresses strong anti-communist, anti-Russian, and anti-Western sentiments. 
  • In 2010, he was arrested and sentenced to over a year in prison in Odesa because he had already established a track record of political activism in Ukraine. For example, Makarov was involved in a smoke bomb incident at the Kyiv City Council in 2008 organized by Bratstvo against corruption in the Ukrainian government. 
  • In 2011, he fled to Sweden with the help of human rights defenders to prevent his extradition to Russia.
  • In Sweden, he learned the language and worked as a postman, a loader, an information center employee, and in other positions until he came to fight against Russian aggression in Ukraine in 2022. 

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