A Russian-backed fighter with neo-Nazi symbols on his sleeve has been awarded a medal

  • The Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic rewarded one of its fighters for killing Ukrainian “nationalists”.
  • Footage shows the fighter wearing neo-Nazi symbols while receiving his medal.
  • Moscow tried to justify the invasion of Ukraine by claiming that the country was ruled by “Nazis”.

The leader of Ukraine’s breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic was seen in a video presenting a medal to a fighter for helping kill “over 250 nationalists”.

Posted on April 3 on the Russian-backed republic’s website, the footage also shows the fighter wearing neo-Nazi symbols on his sleeve.

According to the site, the video shows DPR chief Denis Pushilin greeting and shaking hands with senior lieutenant Roman Vorobyov of the “Somalia” motorized rifle battalion during a visit to Mariupol. He then pins the commendation – called “St George Cross II” by an accompanying report – on Vorobyov.

Two patches can be seen on Vorobyov’s right arm.

One depicts the “Totenkopf” or “skull” – a skull and crossbones image recognized as a neo-Nazi and white supremacist symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. It was originally used by a Nazi German SS branch guarding concentration camps and was later incorporated into the Third SS Panzer Division during World War II.

Vorobyov also wore a patch bearing the “Valknot,” an ancient Norse symbol associated with the god Odin, according to the ADL. The Valknot has also been appropriated by white supremacists, according to the league.

Screenshot of a DPR soldier with neo-Nazi symbols on his right sleeve

A screenshot from the video shows the neo-Nazi symbols “Valknot” and “Totenkopf” on the soldier’s right sleeve.

Screenshot/ODDR.Info


The video’s accompanying report said that Vorobyov and his battalion eliminated “45 units of military equipment and more than 250 nationalists” while fighting alongside Russian forces.

A version of the video posted on Pushilin’s official website did not show Vorobyov receiving his medal. It is not immediately clear why this part of the video was removed.

To justify the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that the country was run by “Nazis” and that the Russian campaign was aimed at “denazifying” the region. Moscow has also recognized the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk – where the DPR is located – as independent republics and said it aims to “liberate” those areas.

While Ukraine has a neo-Nazi presence among some of its fighters, such as the ultranationalist Azov Battalion, experts say Putin’s claims are a misinterpretation of the country and factually false. The democratically elected President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is a Jewish man whose several family members perished in the Holocaust.

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