With more than 26,000 followers, Rospartizan embraces anyone who’s anti-Putin, no matter their political ideology—a feature, not a bug, according to Ponomarev, a former Communist Party member and self-described “social globalist.”
“I am right now not only reaching out, but very actively interacting with not only my friends on the left side of the political spectrum,” he says, “but also with people on the far-right, who we are usually fighting with.”
The Enemy of My Enemy
Roman Popkov, the former head of the Moscow branch of the National-Bolshevik party, falls into that far-right camp. Popkov used to be a member of the influential Russian National Unity, a now-defunct neo-Nazi group responsible for a string of racist crimes, before joining the political party founded by controversial Russian writer, poet, and dissident Eduard Limonov, who sought to unite far-left and far-right radicals on the same platform.
In 2006, after years of harassment by Russian security forces, Popkov was arrested and spent more than two years in pretrial detention in the infamous Butyrka prison. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that his detention was illegal, and his arrest is widely considered to have been motivated by his political activism.
Popkov, now residing in Ukraine, works as a journalist for a number of independent media outlets, and is the head of a recently launched media project called Poslezavtra, or “The Day After Tomorrow.” An “old friend” of Ponomarev, Popkov has featured extensively on February Morning’s shows and took part in the broadcast that followed Dugina’s assassination.
“We are covering direct actions targeting the military and the apparatus of political repression of Putin’s regime,” Popkov says over the phone. “First of all, we are trying to inspire people, to get them to act, and second, we inform and report on what is being done.”
Like Ponomarev, Popkov stresses that activists’ ideologies are not as important as a willingness to defy Putin’s regime and to oppose the war in Ukraine.
“Our collective unites people opposed to Putin’s regime, with different political views and ideologies,” says Popkov. “At the moment, it’s not that important if one is an anarchist, a nationalist, or a liberal as, since Russia is not a democracy, we have no representation in parliament, and can’t vote for our candidates.”
According to Popkov, acts of sabotage in Russia are mostly the work of small-scale far-right and far-left groups, the most famous of those being the Anarcho-Communist Combat Organization, or BO-AK. The organization rose to prominence after it sabotaged the railway leading to a Russian military arsenal in the small town of Kirzach, 100 km east of Moscow. The group shared photos of the sabotage on their own Telegram channel, which quickly spread to other anti-Putin channels, including Rospartizan, and was soon featured on February Morning’s broadcast.
Yet even the staunch anarchists of the BO-AK acknowledge the need to reach out to the other side of the political spectrum. “Most of our contacts are from our ideological camp, but not all,” an anonymous representative of the group tells WIRED. “We believe that alliances with different forces are necessary in our struggle.”