Misanthropic Division Ukraine is a radical right group, a part of the international movement of the same name. Groups of this network also exist in Russia, Belarus, Germany, Spain, USA, and other countries, but the first chapter was formed in Ukraine. The activity of the group generally consists of blogging in popular social networks and publishing the magazine under the same name, but from time to time the group participates in real-life activities. “Our mission is justified by any means” (sic), they state. Total number of Misanthropic Division (MD) activists in Ukraine is unknown, but on the photos one can see up to twenty young people, often with their faces blurred or covered with pictures. According to their own reports, the full number is up to 50 persons.
As of today, the whole MD movement is officially closed, but in reality it has simply been rebranded as Division Phoenix in 2016. One of the reasons for this renaming was the political persecution experienced by the Russian chapter of the movement; Russian government consistently closes all the MD webpages.
Misanthropic Division’s ideological premises include national socialism and anti-Sovietism, white racism and European traditionalism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and sexism. The subtitle of their official webpage reads: “Revolt Against the Modern World”. The movement widely uses Nazi symbolics: the official Misanthropic Division banner includes two well-known Totenkopf symbols in the center and two Kalashnikovs on each side, and the “Phoenix” version of the group logo is a red Schwarze Sonne-stylized bird. The Ukrainian branch also expresses sympathies to Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and solidarity with modern Russian radical right organizations and activists, including the ones who were convicted to imprisonment for hate crimes. Some activists are currently engaged in the Ukrainian-Russian military conflict, serving in Azov regiment and other units (Chernihiv battalion). The official number of military combatants is up to 50, according to their own reports.
Misanthropic Division’s political program includes 25 positions, the first one being the demand for a full independence of Ukraine (both from the European Union and from Russia). Immigration of people of “non-European nations” into Ukraine, according to them, has to be completely stopped. Among other demands are nationalization of industry and banks, providing all citizens the right to keep and bear firearms, changing the constitution of Ukraine and building strong centralized state power.
According to their own accounts, the movement was formed in Kyiv on 31 October, 2014 (on the eve of Samhain, as they emphasize) by three activists – Serhiy “People Hater” Lynnyk, Olexandr “Sharp Knife” and Dmytro “Misanthropic Fuhrer” Pavlov. Before the beginning of the Russian aggression the group participated in Euromaidan as a part of Right Sector, specifically they took part in the attempted attack at the President’s administration on 1 December. Later, MD members took part in the conflict on Rymarska street in Kharkiv on 15 March, 2014, where pro-Russian activists from the Oplot organization attacked the pro-Ukrainian far right sitting in the local Right Sector office; since both sides were well armed, the clash escalated into an armed confrontation, and MD took responsibility for the death of two pro-Russian opponents. As Misanthropic Division activists state themselves, afterwards they were hunting down pro-Russian and separatist activists as well. Later, as has been mentioned above, they began to participate in the military conflict in the east of Ukraine on the Ukrainian side, although in the VK social network one can find the page of “Misanthropic Division Novorossia” as well.
In March 2016 Misanthropic Division claimed the responsibility for the disruption of the Equality festival in Lviv. The event was organized by the LGBTQI organization Insight and was supposed to provide a platform for discussing human rights issues applied to the LGBTQI; this was the reason to attack it. 100-200 young people in sportswear and masks blocked the participants of the event in the hotel, and then made a phone call to the police about an alleged mine in the hotel. While the police were evacuating the festival participants, the far right attacked their buses and the police cars with stones and iron bars. Later that evening, the official page of the movement posted the photo of nearly twenty of their members holding the banner and giving the Nazi salute, and commented it accordingly, using the words “degenerates” and “Untermenschen”.
The Misanthropic Division, as its members state themselves, is officially affiliated with Social Nationalist Assembly – the well-known Ukrainian far-right movement, which at first contributed to the creation of Right Sector during the Euromaidan, and later, after the beginning of the Russian military intervention, formed Azov volunteer battalion (now regiment). Lynnyk is officially a member of Azov, he contributes his own reports from the conflict zone to the MD page. The military combatant Dmytro N (sic) was reportedly killed on 26 August, 2014 near Novoazovsk, although the official Ukrainian registry does not list a person with such personal data.
Today, MD officially distances itself from Right Sector, criticizing its “Jewish collaborationism”, “a strange and often unreservedly treacherous position”. They also have reservations against Chechens being members of Right Sector. Since “blood” is considered to be more important than cultural identity, Crimean Tatars are also treated by MD as “racially alien elements”.
On the other side, MD has some kind of continuity to Maksim “Tesak” Martsinkevich’s Restrukt, the notorious Russian neo-Nazi movement, which openly collaborated with the Kremlin in discrediting and physically intimidating Russian opposition activists. Martsinkevich himself extended his activity to Ukraine as well: in 2013, he tried to establish his homophobic violence projects in Ukraine. During Euromaidan he criticized it, since European integration, in his opinion, would lead to proliferation of “perversions” and “paedophilia”. Misanthropic Division in Ukraine includes some of his followers – for instance, one of the page admins is the well-known Russian nazi Roman “Zukhel” Zheleznov, who now lives in Ukraine. Here, he works as a media volunteer for Azov, also being one of the leaders of the Azov Civic Corps, a non-military movement supporting Azov regiment, indulging in street violence. He is directly involved in the disruption of the anti-fascist rally on 19 January 2016. Before emigrating to Ukraine, Zukhel was liable to two criminal cases – the shooting of a Russian underage anti-fascist from a traumatic gun, and the theft from a supermarket. Also, according to his own statement, he was BORN’s (Military Organization of Russian Nationalists, one of the most infamous Russian neo-Nazi gangs, which murdered eleven people) finger man and never felt sorry for any murders to which he was accessory.
Zheleznov entered Ukraine in July 2014 after his third criminal proceeding (related to Restrukt membership) was initiated, and he did it with special support of Anton Gerashchenko, Ukrainian internal minister Arsen Avakov’s advisor. The latter is often said to be the political patron of SNA; Azov, being a detachment of Ukraine’s National Guard, is also subordinated to Avakov.
Another Misanthropic Division member is the well-known Russian rightist Mikhail Oreshnikov, also the former Restrukt member, prosecuted in Russia for the arson of a police station. Oreshnikov asked for political asylum in Ukraine; he was also said to be Azov’s soldier. In October 2015, Zheleznov, Oreshnikov, and other Russian extreme rightists based in Ukraine created an organization called Russian Center. Its task is to lobby for admitting Russian nationalists who have taken pro-Ukrainian side to Ukrainian citizenship.