perjantai 15. syyskuuta 2023

Those ‘ordinary Russians living in Finland’ – connections to Russian extremists


This text is based on my Finnish-language blog “Ne ’tavalliset Suomessa asuvat venäläiset’ sotimassa Venäjän riveissäkytköksiä venäläisiin ekstremisteihin), which I published on July 25, 2023. For readers’ information, I have added more individual pictures to the blog, and I wrote a short comment at the end of the blog about the case of Yan Petrovsky aka Voislav Torden, a Russian neo-Nazi and second founder of DShRG Rusich. (*) Readers should also note that some of the Russians I mentioned in the blog have lived in our country for years or even decades. So, their enlistment as mercenaries or their support of Russian warfare cannot therefore be explained by the fact that they had only lived in Finland for a short time. Due to the Finnish Criminal Code, I have covered the faces of some of the pictures, especially from persons who live permanently in Finland.

This blog is a continuation of my blog – Those “ordinary Russians” living in Finland: joining to Armed Forces of Russia – published on August 22, 2023.


Those ‘ordinary Russians living in Finland’ – connections to Russian extremists 

During the spring and summer, when I was setting up networks of people of Russian background living in Finland for the blog “Those ‘ordinary Russians’ living in Finland: joining to Armed Forces of Russia”, I noticed that at least some of the Russians living in Finland have close connections with Russian far-right organizations – probably the contact networks are still active, even though traveling between the countries has been significantly restricted. For example, the imperialist Russian Imperial Movement, or RIM (Ven. Русское Имперское Движение), with its “headquarters” in St. Petersburg, came to the fore. RIM has trained and equipped militants for the Russian forces in Ukraine, in addition, militants from its armed wing – the Imperial Legion – have been volunteers in Russian forces in Ukraine since 2014. (1) Imperial Legion fighters have also participated in hostilities in the Middle East and on the African continent, in January 2020, RIM announced that its fighter was killed in Libya. (2) Russia supports warlord Khalifa Haftar in the Libyan war.

In addition to the previous one, the Russian Imperial Movement organizes military training for various groups in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. The courses organized by it have also been attended by members of the national socialist Nordic Resistance Movement. Two of its Swedish members who attended the Partizan Camp, Anton Thulin and Viktor Melin, have been identified in photographs. They traveled through Finland to RIM’s Partizan camp in August 2016. (3)

Some of the pictures published by the Finno-Russians of “airsoft” training seem to have been taken in a Soviet-era environment based on the building stock – probably in Russia, a theme I will return to in more detail later in this article. The conclusion is also supported by a German Focus article from a few years ago, the main topic of which was the “military training” received by German neo-Nazis and the extreme right-wing members at the Partizan camp organized by RIM. (4) In the Focus article, it was mentioned that there were also unidentified Finns in the same camps. At least some Finno-Russians have in these “airsoft” exercises that they claim to have attended on their equipment or clothes the marks that combine the flags of Finland and Russia.

According to The Soufan Center, all the men who attend the Partizan camps organized by RIM to receive so-called military training belong to the extreme right wing and are white supremacists or neo-Nazis. RIM’s Partizan lager usually lasts one to two weeks, 10-15 men take part in the course at one time. (5) The lager program includes small group tactics and seizure of buildings, and to study bomb making, sniper shooting and studying combat first aid. According to Stanislav Vorobjev, a member of RIM’s management, more than five hundred men have been trained at the Partizan lager (or its predecessor) between 2011 and 2017. (6) The Russian Imperial Movement has also cooperated with the Russian intelligence officer Igor Girkin, who was arrested on July 21, 2023, at least in the early stages of the war in Ukraine, i.e., in 2014 and 2015. (7)

On July 8, 2023, Ilta-Sanomat reported on a Russian man living in Finland who, according to Ukrainian sources, had fought in PMC Wagner in 2014. (8) At that time, PMC Wagner was still owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin. Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) interviewed him as a witness in the investigate on into the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. He said during the interrogations that he does not recognize the persons in military uniforms in the photographs (found in his possession). In the photo collage below, there is a screenshot of the news in question, in the picture the militants are holding the flag of the Tsarist Russian Empire. This flag is used in Russia especially by extreme right-wing groups that support the Russian Empire. When the war started by Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine in 2014, the flag has been used as a symbol by RIM’s Imperial Legion (mentioned above) and other far-right groups who dream of restoring the “honour” and borders of the Russian Empire. Some units of the Russian armed forces have also openly flown the flag of the Russian Empire during the war in Ukraine, also after the escalation of the war by Russia on February 24, 2022.


Finnish Russians, “airsoft” and networks

One picture on his VK page attracts attention. In it, Pavel is standing in a gun suit, holding a weapon that looks like an assault rifle.

‘It's airsoft’, says Pavel”. Quote from the article “On the Russian side” (Fin. Venäjän puolella) published in Helsingin Sanomat on June 27, 2023. (9) In the composite photo below, two Russians living in Finland at these “airsoft” exercises, which they say they attended. Many of the participants in the exercises have marks on their equipment or clothes that refer to their place of residence, etc. Russians living in Finland have marks that combine the Finnish and Russian flags. In addition to Russian flags or Russian troop unit insignia, the photos they published also show individual Estonian flags, among other things.

Based on the symbols, it can be concluded that these “airsoft” exercises or competitions are multinational, as I refer to in my blog published on July 8, “Those ‘ordinary Russians’ living in Finland: joining to Armed Forces of Russia”, the pictures seem to have been taken somewhere other than Finland. When comparing the pictures published by Russians living in Finland with the pictures found on the social media accounts of people who can be connected to the Russian Imperial Movement or other Russian extremist groups, certain commonalities can be found considerably, based on which I dare to conclude that the pictures published by Russians living in Finland were most likely taken in St. Petersburg or the Leningrad region in Russia. There is a vanishingly small possibility that some of the photos they published, in which there are multinational people, were taken, for example, in the eastern parts of Estonia, but I consider this option very unlikely.

My conclusion is also supported by the fact that several Russians (or persons with Russian background) living in Finland have direct contacts through social media with persons in Russia who belong to the paramilitary forces of extremist groups or have a contractual relationship with companies offering mercenary services. To give a few examples, Anton Kuznetsoff, who fought in Donbas as a volunteer, has contacts based on social media with persons of Russian background living in Finland. These contacts who live in Finland, have delivered at least material aid to Donbas during the war that started in 2014, or they have participated in “airsoft” exercises or competitions in a destination that seems to be somewhere other than in Finland. Kuznetsoff also belongs to the Imperial Legion, the military wing of the Russian Imperial Movement.

Like Kuznetsoff, the extensive network of Aleksandr Ptits, who is from St. Petersburg, includes people who have (or had) connections to Finland. This group also included Petri Viljakainen, who joined the Russian-led volunteer forces in 2015 through Finnish Johan Bäckman. (10) According to the information, Viljakainen has died in the war after the escalation carried out by Russia on February 24, 2022. However, Viljakainen’s death has not been confirmed by official documents in Finland. Based on social media, Ptits seems to have taken part in the war in Ukraine in the Russian forces, besides which he has been actively involved in various paramilitary activities in Russia (in St. Petersburg and/or the Leningrad region) – possibly as a military instructor.

Since St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region are located close to Finland, the region forms a kind of hub, from which there are many other people in the region who have close connections with Russians living in Finland, whose hobbies seem to include “airsoft” or other military activities. Contacts to Finland can also be found in extremist Ruslan Pseuch, who attacked a member of the Russian “solidarity movement” in St. Petersburg in the summer of 2014. However, Pseuch was not imprisoned for his act, but was allowed to enlist in the Russian volunteers fighting in the Luhansk region.

An interesting pattern can be found in the background of Vladimir S, who lives in Finland. He poses very openly in pictures, armed as well as with members of the Night Wolves motorcycle gang, which is a supporter of Vladimir Putin’s regime, and conducted several hybrid operations in Europe for the Putin administration. There are also several people on his social network who seem to have direct connections to Russian paramilitary organizations or groups. Vladimir S also seems to have met Aleksandr Zaldostanov, the leader of the Night Wolves, and Jeff Monson, an American MMA fighter who moved to Russia. The meeting place would seem to be the Russian-occupied, summer Crimean peninsula. We know that the Night Wolves have organized a propaganda show in August on the occupied peninsula for several years. (11)

Based on my observations, for many Russians living in Finland, airsoft seems to be a significant reason for traveling between Finland and Russia. Based on pictures of social media and other observations, many people also find Russian imperialism and expansionism attractive, some even seem to like the Soviet era with hammer and sickle flags. Soviet times, even though some of those who are deep in Soviet nostalgia were not even born in the Soviet Union, but in Russia!

In the article published in Helsingin Sanomat, one Russian living in Finland comes to the fore – Pavel (i.e. Pavel N), who, along with “airsoft” training, according to Ukrainian information, has participated in the war in the Russian volunteer forces at the beginning of the war that started in Ukraine in 2014. According to his own words, he only delivered humanitarian aid to Eastern Ukraine. (12) While researching the social media accounts of Russians living in Finland, I notice that, in addition to Pavel, other persons of Russian background who declare their place of residence in Finland have at least delivered material aid to the war zone in Eastern Ukraine during the war that started in 2014. More precisely, to the territories occupied by Russia. With a very high probability, they have delivered cargoes of material to the region via Russia (committing at least a Ukrainian state border crime, possibly much more). “Cure Morozov”, who declares Turku as his hometown, belongs to this group of Russians living in Finland. He also has contacts with Russian extremists, based on the pictures he has published, he also seems to be fascinated by Third Reich Germany, and hammer and sickle!


We also remember how Johan Bäckman openly stated in his blog that he had delivered material from Finland (including various equipment needed for warfare) to the Russian-led volunteers in Donbas, Ukraine. (13) He also did this alongside the recruiting activities he carried out. In Finland, Bäckman’s networks also included people of Russian background at that time.

One of the pictures published from Donbas featured a Russian propagandist who was introduced as the Russian patriot “Jelena”. Sometimes Bäckman described her as the “Jelena of Donbas” or “the beautiful Jelena of Donbas”. It should also be noted that “Jelena” also did not go to the front in January, even though Bäckman claims so in his blog.

Denying things and lying

At the end of my writing, I return to the articles published in Ilta-Sanomat, the focus of which was a man of Russian background living in Finland, who was suspected of being a mercenary in PMC Wagner and who was listened to by the National Bureau of Investigation as a witness in the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17. (14 and 15)

In an interview with Ilta-Sanomat, the man denies that he belonged to PMC Wagner:

I haven’t been to Wagner, and I don’t even know if Wagner still existed when those pictures were taken. Then there was talk of volunteers or a Slavic army”. (16)

It is known that in the middle of 2014, numerous detachments of Russian volunteers were assembled in Donbas, but from spring 2014 onwards, detachments of mercenaries were also sent to the region from Russia, among which was also PMC Wagner. The war in Donbas, which started in the spring of 2014, was PMC Wagner’s first visible operation, its predecessor organization operated in Syria under the name Slavonic Corps.

Between 2013 and 2015, among the Russian mercenary organizations there was also a group that appeared under the name Slav Corps, as well as troops made up of Cossack volunteers. These volunteers and mercenaries fought in Syria from 2013 onwards and from spring 2014 onwards in Ukraine, Donbas. In addition to military operations in eastern Ukraine, Russia also relied on these forces in the occupied Crimean peninsula to maintain “internal security”. In practice, these militants participated in terrorizing and harassing opponents of the Russian occupation.

n the articles, I drew attention to the fact that the Russian man in question (remained anonymous) also first denied that he had participated in combat missions, stating that he had given patriotic training to Russian youth in Russia on handling various weapons, until finally admitting that he had been there as a “voluntary protector” in several combat situations. (17) He refers to the protection of Christians and the protection of children and the elderly from bombing. Especially the reference to giving “patriotic education” to the children raised some thoughts in my mind. Namely, the militaristic training of children and young people in the areas occupied by Russia from Ukraine started in some parts as early as 2015, i.e., long before the militaristic training of children and young people practiced in Russia came to the fore in the Western media with the establishment of Yunarmiya.

After Russia occupied the Crimean peninsula and parts of Donbas, Ukrainian children and youth from the regions have also been transferred to Russia to receive “patriotic education”. These children and teens were often taken to training and education camps by force, without the consent of the children’s parents. As far as I understand, such forced transfers of children and teens (minors) are war crimes. How to relate to a person who has participated in the implementation of such actions in one way or another? Can he shirk responsibility by stating that he only obeyed orders or by saying “I didn't know where they came from”?

I am tired of the endless denial of things by these Russians or Finnish supporters of Russia. They are all innocent, that they only provided humanitarian aid or helped children and the elderly, or they justify their actions like Pavel – if it is not forbidden, it is allowed, as he stated according to an article published in Helsingin Sanomat: “Is it forbidden? If it is not forbidden, it is permissible”. (18)

And that concludes with a few questions. At this point, many are probably rightfully wondering why such a group lives in Finland? What are they doing here? Do they pose a security threat to Finland? The last question will be answered on my behalf by Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, Chair of the Defense Committee of the German Parliament –

Such people with real war experience – who possibly killed others without remorse – are dangerous to our society”. (19)

* * *

My original writing ended here, but due to the – still ongoing – episode related to Yan Petrovsky, it is worth writing a few more short paragraphs. It is puzzling that a person like Petrovsky managed to pass the checks and enter our country at least twice and stay here for long periods of time – this alone shows that all our authorities are not really doing their job with the necessary seriousness! The claim of the immigration authorities that they know who comes here and to whom a residence permit is granted is definitely not true. A known war criminal, mercenary and founder of a mercenary organization, should have been caught earlier!

It is impossible for me to believe that the story they (Petrovsky and his wife) concocted, that they came to Finland because they want to raise their children in the West but be close to Russia, is the whole truth. It may be a partial truth, but it is foolish to imagine that it is the whole truth! Petrovsky has contacts with the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement and the far-right Soldiers of Odin – as well as extremist Russians living in the Nordic countries. Too many coincidences considering the time! Infiltrating the West under the guise of a new name (Voislav Torden), utilizing contacts and existing networks – what Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann stated about the danger of such persons to our community?

And finally, Petrovsky’s trial in Finland could lead us to the trail of yet another educated and considered exemplary Russian. After a little digging, a person who accuses Finns of being Russophobes seems to be revealed under the “pure shell” of Petrovsky’s legal assistant Natalia Malgina, who is like a model example of a liberal educated Russian who is unable to critically evaluate Russia and through it herself. (20) These times truly reveal to us the “Russian soul”!


























My blog about Natalia Malgina (in Finnish): 

My blog Suomi ensin – Putinin asialla (published 7/2017) contains a few observations about Finland related to the topic of this blog.

Finnish-Russians, weapons and participation in criminal war, supporting imperialism and distorting history.

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti

Toistaiseksi ei kommentointia.

Huomaa: vain tämän blogin jäsen voi lisätä kommentin.