Putin's Unruly Children A New Generation Aims to Revitalize Russia
Part 5: Svetoslav: The Neo-Nazi
Svetoslav Volkov has broad shoulders and a soft spot for Germany. A black sweater made by Thor Steinar, the clothing label based in the eastern German state of Brandenburg that is popular among neo-Nazis, covers his tattoo. He has the German words for "Loyalty is my honor," the motto of Hitler's Waffen SS, tattooed on his forearm.
The 20-year-old grew up where he says Russia "was the most criminal in the 1990s." Lyubertsy is a bleak neighborhood of prefabricated apartment blocks outside Moscow's city limits. The mafia committed robberies there and controlled nightclubs and entire factories. A plaque in front of his building commemorates the victims of one attack. Svetoslav and his mother witnessed the murders from a playground nearby.
Svetoslav doesn't smoke or drink, and he is very active in sports. He pursues a philosophy called "straight edge." He is part of a new generation of neo-Nazis in Russia who are not as conspicuous as the skinheads of the past -- and more eloquent. They preach armed conflict against the state. Their main enemy, Svetoslav says, is the Russian Federation. "The goal is to seize power," he says, and, to that end, he and others like him dress up in combat gear and practice shooting with hunting rifles in a forest near Moscow.
These men dream of a different Russia, one that is nationalistic, Slavic and doesn't include the Caucasus, which has been part of Russia since 1864. Svetoslav calls this the "separation of existences." He incites hatred against Muslims and distributes a brutal video on the Internet. It depicts a Chechen man slitting the throat of a Russian woman. "Dedicated to the tolerant and the patient," Svetoslav has written under the video.
At protests in Moscow, the black, yellow and white flag of the nationalists can sporadically be seen fluttering next to the banners of the liberal opposition. But if free elections were held nationwide, the right-wing nationalist would probably prevail rather than the democrats favored in the West.