Speaking of Nazis, the Donetsk leader of pro-Russian separatists honored a Russian soldier with Nazi symbols on his uniform for his role in Mariupol
The leader of the self-proclaimed, unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin, has been photographed awarding military decorations to a Russian soldier who has Nazi symbols on his uniform. Pushilin did so despite Russia justifying its aggressive attack on Ukraine, which has been going on since 24 February, by an alleged need to "de-Nazify" that country.
According to the Czech news server iDNES.cz, the independent MediaZona news server of Russia identified the honoree at the beginning of April as Roman Vorobyov, a Senior Lieutenant of the so-called "Somalia Battalion". The photographs show him wearing a modified skull-and-crossbones on the sleeve of his uniform, which is the symbol of the former 3rd Tank Division SS Totenkopf ("Death's Head") from World War II.
Beneath the skull is a Nordic rune depicting three intertwined triangles, the so-called "Valknut", a favorite neo-Nazi symbol. Pushilin awarded the St. George's Military Cross to Vorobyov for his significant merit in the ongoing battles for Mariupol Port in Ukraine.
The ceremony was captured on video that, according to MediaZona, appeared on the official website of the self-proclaimed, unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic. According to the official version of the Russian Federation's propaganda about its war on Ukraine, its soldiers are tasked with "ridding Ukraine of neo-Nazis", but more cases are coming to light of Russian military members who espouse neo-Nazism themselves.
The Times previously reported that more than 400 Russian soldiers tasked with assassinating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other members of the Government of Ukraine had been sent by the Kremlin at the start of Russia's 2022 invasion of Kyiv. According to a number of media outlets, this so-called Wagner Group is funded by the billionaire Yevgeny Prigoshin, a close associate of Russian President Putin.
These armed men, who privately serve Putin, are led by Dmitry Utkin, who uses the pseudonym "Wagner". Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler is said to have admired the composer Richard Wagner, and Utkin took his inspiration from that.
Fontanka, an investigative news server in Russia, has reported that Utkin is a Nazi supporter. Photos of him are freqeuently shared on social media showing his tattoo of SS runes on his neck and the Nazi German Imperial eagle on his chest.
Other photographs of Russian or separatist soldiers adorned with Nazi symbols are appearing on social media. In eastern Ukraine, armed conflict with separatists has been going on since 2014, when a coup took place in Kyiv after the series of demonstrations called the "Euromaidan".
Many neo-Nazi sympathizers from abroad joined the militias of the self-proclaimed, unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics at that time. According to an analysis by the French Institute of International Relations referenced by the Czech iDNES.cz server, members of far-right groups have played a much larger role on the Russian side of the war than they have on the Ukrainian side.
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