My latest for Russia Magazine, “Did Vladislav Surkov Help Fund Neo-Nazis?“:
It’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 information on Surkov’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 the Military Organization of Russian Nationalists (BORN) between 2007 and 2010. Goryachev was extradited from Serbia last November to stand trial in Russia. BORN’s kill list includes Federal Judge Eduard Chuvashov, antifascist activists Ivan Khutoskii and Ilya Dzhaparidze, Thai boxing world champion Muslim Abdullaev, the lawyer Stanislav Markelov, and Novaya gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova. If Goryachev’s alleged links to the Kremlin implicates in several murders. And Goryachev’s connections to the Kremlin are coming from an unlikely source: Nikita Tikhonov, a former compatriot of Goryachev and co-founder of BORN. Tikhonov is serving a life sentence along with Yevgenia Khasis, who’s serving eighteen years, for Markelov’s and Baburova’s murder in 2011. Tikhonov is providing testimony in Goryachev’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 allies’ connections to neo-Nazis?