North Slavic community

The North Slavic Community is a far-right paramilitary group based in St Petersburg that positions itself as a military-patriotic community of modern Cossacks. The group claims to have been operating in St Petersburg for more than 12 years, but its VKontakte community was only established in 2019 and its Telegram channel in 2020.

**Children’s military-patriotic training**

Russian opposition media outlet The Insider [revealed]( in early May 2023 that there is an autonomous non-profit organisation in St. Petersburg, the Centre for Special Patriotic Sports Training “Dobrovolets”, which is essentially part of the same structure as the North Slavic Community.

Military training programmes for children in St. Petersburg and the region have been running for years, and the emphasis is not on ordinary schoolchildren but on children from boarding schools, troubled teenagers and cadets of all kinds of schools. Over the past few years, cadets from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, teenagers from the Russian Search Movement, groups from Grom Young Army, DOSAAF groups, orphans from the Kolpino boarding school, students from Lyceum 126, children from the St. Petersburg special school No. 1 for teenagers with deviant behaviour and many others have taken these courses. During the classes, the “trainers” dress ten-year-old children in military uniform with a Z patch and teach them how to use a machine gun. The exact number of pupils who pass through the hands of the tutors cannot be estimated from open sources, but we are talking about hundreds of children and adolescents. “Dobrovolets” activity is approved by governor of Saint Petersburg Alexander Beglov, states the publication. Media outlet also published a picture of Beglov with members of “Dobrovolets”.

**Nazi leadership**

The director of Dobrovoltsy, Alexey Savinsky, also calling himself “Yar”, is a supporter of the far-right Resistance movement, formed by people from the banned Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), nazi-skinheads and members of the banned “Slavic Union”. Resistance movement was founded by Savinsky’s friend Roman Zentsov who is a ex-MMA fighter and a well-known far-right activist. Savinsky runs training programmes for all ages, runs lectures and meetings, and oversees regular joint exercises with neo-Nazi unit “Rusich” and the “Armada” military-patriotic club. But there are other educators on his team as well.

Vladimir “Ulfer” Bakin is the self-appointed ataman of the North Slavic community of St Petersburg and an active participant in the Ukrainian war. A member of the separate Cossack battalion “Georgievsky” and the Union of Volunteers of Donbass, he fought near Izyum in a volunteer unit in the 80th Rifle Battalion of the 20th Russian Army in the spring of 2022. “Rusich” fighters and the Rusich reconnaissance unit “Zimargl” were stationed in the same area. “Ulfer” regularly attends meetings of the St Petersburg Public Chamber, the Wagner Centre and Cyber Front Z lectures. Bakin regularly speaks and appears publicly with another neo-Nazi, Timur “Kiba” Gromov, the communications chief of “Rusich” and “Zimargl”. Another instructor, Mikhail “Pitbull” Turkanov, is an outspoken neo-Nazi who served time from 2012 to 2017 for kidnapping and extortion. He is also an active participant in Russian aggression in Ukraine. Turkanov now commands a unit of the Española football fans’ fighting squad. He is also a member of the Union of Volunteers of Donbass.


“Dobrovolets” and the North Slavic community are part of the Association of Military Training Centres of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region and are residents of the Wagner Centre. The organisations are supported by the Society for the Development of Russian Historical Education “Double-headed eagle society” (“Tsargrad”) and “Cyberfront Z”. The main curator of relations between “Dobrovolets” and North Slavic community and St. Petersburg officials is, apparently, Konstantin Blokhin – deputy chairman of the Commission on Youth Policy, Development of Volunteering, Patriotic Education and Sports of the St. Petersburg Public Chamber, who is also chairman of the board of the public sports movement “Strong Russia”.