My latest for Russia Magazine, “Did Vladislav Surkov Help Fund Neo-Nazis?“:
Itâ€™s long been rumored that Vladislav Surkov funded and directed football hooligans and Russian nationalists to attack Russian oppositionists. But there has been little direct proof to pin on the Grey Cardinal of the Presidential Administration (PA). It was all just rumors, albeit believable ones. The truth, however, might be coming out. Since last May, the security services have been collecting informationÂ on Surkovâ€™s connections with right-wing groups, particularly in the formation and funding of the neo-Nazi group Russkii obraz. The significance of this possible connection is big. Russkii obraz is where Ilya Goryachev got his start in the neo-Nazi business. Goryachev is currently on trial for masterminding several murders as the leader of theÂ Military Organization of Russian Nationalists (BORN)Â between 2007 and 2010. Goryachev was extradited from Serbia last November to stand trial in Russia. BORNâ€™s kill list includes Federal Judge Eduard Chuvashov, antifascist activists Ivan Khutoskii and Ilya Dzhaparidze, Thai boxing world champion Muslim Abdullaev, theÂ lawyer Stanislav Markelov, andÂ Novaya gazetaÂ journalist Anastasia Baburova. If Goryachevâ€™s alleged links to the Kremlin implicates in several murders. And Goryachevâ€™s connections to the Kremlin are coming from an unlikely source: Nikita Tikhonov, a former compatriot of Goryachev and co-founder of BORN. Tikhonov isÂ serving a life sentenceÂ along with Yevgenia Khasis, whoâ€™s serving eighteen years, for Markelovâ€™s and Baburovaâ€™s murder in 2011. Tikhonov is providing testimony in Goryachevâ€™s upcoming trial, and some of the transcripts point to a link between neo-Nazis and the PA. Is Tikhonov testimony true? Is there a deeper meaning behind outing Surkov and his alliesâ€™ connections to neo-Nazis?