Taras “Hummer” Bobanych, the head of Right Sector’s regional cell in Lviv, was born on 15 March 1989. In 2014, he ran for a seat in Verkhovna Rada on Right Sector’s party list. Since 2000s, he has been a notorious nazi skinhead, the informal leader of the neonazi group Lviv Skins.
The pub fight
On 24 August 2015, around ten neo-nazis, including Taras Hummer, were drinking in a bar in Lviv. The bartender approached the men, asking them to be quiet. The CCTV footage shows that he was polite and had no intention to start a fight, holding several glasses in his hand. And yet, Hummer and a friend sprang on their feet and started beating up the bartender and the visitors who tried to stand up for the man. One of Bobanych’s bulky comrades even hit a young waitress in her belly with his foot and punched her in the face.
Later, it transpired that the police had initiated criminal proceedings, but Taras Hummer managed to reach an agreement with investigators and avoid punishment. The Nazi’s face can be seen on the footage perfectly well, and the media have immediately identified him as the leader of Lviv’s Right Sector cell. Obviously, if he is walking freely in the streets of Lviv, completely unchallenged, he must have been able to reach an understanding with the police.
Nevertheless, Right Sector’s official website decries “political repressions”, listing Taras Hummer among the names of the regional leaders allegedly “persecuted” by the police; according to the website, he “is being accused of hooliganism for a fight in which he didn’t participate”.
FSB connections and Russian neonazi friends
On 29 August 2016, unidentified persons have detonated a car bomb and fired from automatic guns at the motorcade of Bohdan Kopytko, a businessman and criminal renown in Lviv. Three of Kopytko’s bodyguards died. A month later, the police detained the perpetrators. One of them turned out to be Russian citizen Ivan Koltsov, a notorious neonazi from Saint Petersburg. He has been permanently residing in Ukraine over the last several years, maintaining close friendship with the local far right.
Security Service of Ukraine officially announced that Koltsov had served in Russian army, had been a member of fascist organisations, and had been sent to Ukraine as a spy in 2014. According to some sources, he was recruited by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) to function as a liaison between Ukrainian far right scene and Russian secret services. Strange as it may seem, he turned out to be Taras Bobanych’s close friend: the two neonazis are still friends on VK (Russian analogue of Facebook).
At the photo above, we also see Artem Bonov, a notorious neonazi from Lviv region, who has been in the centre of many scandalous episodes, such as a photo of Azov men with swastikas performing Nazi salutes in the head office of Ukraine’s internal ministry. Bonov claimed he had underwent treatment in Lviv regional psychiatric hospital for several times. Now the skinhead is undergoing compulsory treatment in a mental hospital as a punishment for a murder he committed.
One more Russian neonazi friend of Taras Hummer is Alexei “Mukha” Maximov from Saint Petersburg, who has two criminal records for murder and hooliganism. He, as well as his pals, often visits Ukraine, attending various events organised by the local far right.
In 2015, Mukha was caught in the centre of a scandal around a “troll factory” in Saint Petersburg. One of the most famous “troll factories” spreading Russian government’s propaganda on the internet, is situated in Saint Petersburg’s neighbourhood Olgino. Ludmila Savchuk was one of its employees, disseminating texts on Livejournal. When she sued her bosses for the unpaid wages, New York Times journalist Adrian Chen decided to investigate. The bosses decided to frame the famous journalist. He received a phone call from a girl who said she was the factory’s employee and suggested to meet for an interview. She said she would come with her brother for safety reasons. The brother turned out to be Alexei Mukha Maximov. He took the journalist to a restaurant where Russian propagandist media workers took a photo of the American journalist, who had come to smear Russia and meets with neonazis.
Later, Mukha confirmed that he had been consciously working for secret services: “He was obviously interested in stories about how the bloody Kremlin regime persecutes free Russian people. It is not the first time when I see such interest from foreign journalists, but I am not going to help them. Many people would like to view Russian nationalists as a “fifth column” which will act upon the orders from the West and tear down the Kremlin. But nationalism means work for the benefit of one’s country, not for its downfall, therefore nobody will get any help from us in this”.
Despite the scandal, Taras Bobanych still maintains friendly contacts with Mukha. On 8 August, he reposted on VK a video featuring Mukha’s fight at the Triumph of the Will tournament in Budapest. He commented it: “Wow!!!! This is old school, baby!!! Liokha is the best! I am proud of you Bro! 88!”.
Mukha also has friends among those Russian neonazis who fight in the armies of the self-proclaimed republics in the east of Ukraine. One of his comrades is Boris, who has already been featured in a publication of a Ukrainian website. Boris has spent a year in the neonazi military unit Rusich, headed by the notorious sadist Alexei Milchakov. Curiously, on the photo below, Boris, standing next to Mukha, is wearing a t-shirt of a famous Ukrainian far-right brand, Svastone. This brand was founded by Arseniy Bilodub, frontman of the band Sokyra Peruna and Hummer’s comrade.
Conflicts in the party
At the beginning of March 2015, Right Sector’s Lviv party cell underwent a split. Three former leaders of the cell claimed that its members “engage in banditry and work for Moscow, discrediting the Ukrainian national idea”. Their press conference was disrupted by ten neonazis wearing balaclavas, who burst into the press club wielding knives. On the outside, they were accompanied by a group led by Taras Hummer; a dozen of underage youths in balaclavas attempted to attack the participants of the press conference.
In November 2015, when Dmytro Yarosh was reelected as the party leader, Taras Hummer was accused of attempting a “coup” and usurping power in the Lviv cell of Right Sector. A general meeting of soldiers from Right Sector’s 2nd reserve battalion as well as representatives of the party’s district cells, unanimously passed a no-confidence motion against Taras Bobanych.
And yet, Hummer was publicly endorsed by a number of neonazis, including Arseniy Bilodub and Nika Bykova – a neonazi from Kyiv, serving a prison term for murder. After a campaign called “Hummer Is Not a Traitor”, Bobanych was readmitted to Right Sector.
Rescuing a comrade from behind bars
On 10 October 2013, Taras Hummer’s notorious comrade from Lviv Skins, Andriy “Spider” Ignatiuk, has stabbed a young guy while being intoxicated. Before that, in 2007, Spider had been sentenced to 8 years of prison for armed hooliganism, burglary, violent robbery, and dragging underage persons in criminal activities. In 2011, he was put on parole.
On 8 November 2013, Lviv Skins and their supporters spread the information about Spider’s arrest. The neonazi has been immediately proclaimed a “political prisoner”; to support him, a fundraising campaign has been initiated.
After Maidan, when Spider’s marginal friends became respected and moneyed members of Right Sector, Andriy Ignatiuk was released from prison. According to sources close to Hummer, they managed to bribe the police and the victim. On 17 April 2014, the court found Spider guilty and sentenced him to 5 years. But he escaped prison because the prosecutor and the affected party suddenly made peace with him.
After his release, Spider joined Azov regiment. It is puzzling how a person having two criminal records and being on parole was recruited into a police regiment, contrary to Ukrainian laws.
Spider also actively participated in the attack at a leftist social centre in Lviv, organised by the far right on 6 November 2016. It is unclear whether Hummer would be able to save his comrade from yet another prison term this time; but luckily for him, the police has not detained any of the attackers. Ignatiuk can be found on VK.
Just as most of Ukrainian far right, Taras “Hummer” Bobanych does not conceal his neonazi and racist views. Apart from conveniently confirming Russian government’s allegations of fascism in Ukraine, the far right here are openly calling for a military coup and installation of a “real junta”. It is difficult to predict the outcomes of activities of such organisations, which gain popularity among the youth. Ukrainian state grants asylum and citizenship to overt neonazis, namely, Sergey “Maliuta” Korotkikh and Roman “Zukhel” Zheleznov. Support of such organisations and their paramilitary formations by the state, as well as ignoring the problem of neonazism in Ukraine on the society’s part, are sources of great concern.