M-TAC: Nazis “R” Us
Special Branding Operation to Nazify Ukraine
Previously on “Ukes, Kooks & Spooks,” we peeked at the far-right underbelly of M-TAC, Ukraine’s “largest and most powerful brand of clothing and equipment in the tactical and military industry,” that became central to Volodymyr Zelensky’s “de facto uniform” after Russia invaded Ukraine. But “Zelensky branded by fascists?” just scratched the surface.
Alexander Karasyov is the founder of M-TAC and the owner of its parent company, Militarist. Looking at his social media, it is apparent that Karasyov is a neo-Nazi. The day before Ukraine celebrated thirty years of independence in August 2021, he shared a point of view shot of himself making a Nazi salute at a Ukrainian flag on Facebook. But Karasyov has been most unhinged on the Russian social media platform VK.
“I will also celebrate the day of the Holocaust. Happy holidays to all!” he declared on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2017, reacting to an image of Jewish children in a concentration camp. A few months earlier, he shared former Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess’ last words at the Nuremberg trials. In the weeks to come, Karasyov reposted a tribute by Wotanjugend, perhaps the most overt neo-Nazi group in Ukraine, to Horst Wessel, an early Nazi martyr. He also shared a post from “Aryan Hope” wishing a happy birthday to Adolf Hitler, the “best politician in the world, and a wonderful person.” (Click here for more.)
Alexander Karasyov is apparently a major supporter of the neo-Nazi Azov movement in Ukraine. In 2018, Azov leader Andriy Biletsky said the person who helped them the most (“with everything he could”) was “Alex, the owner of the wonderful network ‘Militarist’, where half of the Ukrainian army dresses.” A month later, Biletsky singled out Karasyov again.
There are a certain number of businessmen who somehow help both the front [Azov Regiment] (where I ask them to) and the political party [National Corps]… For example, the Militarist network. This is the business of our friend — and this is a perfect example of an honest and successful Ukrainian business.
These statements prompted Militarist to deny that it sponsors the Azov movement, but the company admitted that “the majority of employees… support the actions by the National Corps political party and its leader Andriy Biletsky!” Two years earlier, Militarist announced the death of a former employee, a Nazi re-enactor from Russia who apparently killed himself after joining Azov.
Around that time, M-TAC released a new patch of Sviatoslav the 10th century Grand Prince of Kiev, with his alleged slogan — “I’m coming for you” (Idu Na Vi) — and a neo-Nazi symbol (Black Sun) in the background. Sviatoslav destroyed the Khazar Khaganate, which is rumored, by antisemites in particular, to have been a medieval Jewish state.
In October 2016, Militarist co-sponsored a far-right “Idu Na Vi” MMA tournament with the extreme Right Sector and Azov movements, and the neo-Nazi clothing brand SvaStone, which has hundreds of items listed on the Militarist website. The lead organizer of the event was Arseniy Bilodub, the owner of SvaStone, a representative of Right Sector, and the leader of a prominent white supremacist band in Ukraine, which in 2020 released a music video sponsored by Militarist.
Right Sector has its fair share of Nazis, and that apparently includes Kyiv City Council deputy Alina Mykhaylova. She was engaged to Right Sector battalion commander Dmytro Kotsuibailo, who was recently killed in Bakhmut, and just had a high-powered funeral in Kyiv thanks to Volodymyr Zelensky declaring him a Hero of Ukraine in December 2021. Possibly Ukraine’s most famous Banderite-Nazi couple, they both modeled for M-TAC, and appeared on Militarist social media numerous times, including on Valentine’s Day in 2020.
Alexander Karosyov’s business has been promoting the Ukrainian far-right on social media for years, particularly when they wear M-TAC. When the neo-Nazi leader of C14, a violent organization that the U.S. State Department has labeled a “hate group,” was spotted at a rally in one of their winter jackets in January 2018, M-TAC said it was “feeling wonderful” on Facebook. Judging by his VK profile, Karasyov is also a fan of C14.
The last time we looked at M-TAC, that included its main Instagram page, “TM_Militarist,” reposting a self-portrait of far-right user “just______hate” (who now goes by “t.e.r.r.o.r.m.a.c.h.i.n.e”) with a clearly visible patch of the neo-Nazi “Misanthropic Division,” which is associated with the Azov movement. Karasyov evidently likes the Misanthropic Division too.
Less than three weeks after “Ukes, Kooks & Spooks” asked, “Zelensky branded by fascists?” the same M-TAC Instagram page reposted a neo-Nazi from the Azov movement with the username “white88kazakh.” (88 refers to “HH,” or Heil Hitler.) His Instagram account showcases blatant Nazism in Azov and the Ukrainian military.
Last time we saw that “TM_Militarist” has repeatedly reposted “Evgeniy Grizzly,” who has modeled for Ukrainian Nazi brands SvaStone and R3ICH. Since then, Alexander Karasyov’s company appears to have hired him. “Grizzly” has been featured on their social media accounts roughly two dozen times (at least), and once said that Karasyov “took care of me even more than my own father.”
When British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv in April 2022, apparently to scuttle a tentative peace deal, the Ukrainian president greeted Johnson wearing one of his M-TAC fleece jackets, which he wore two nights earlier, on the eve of launching his “Be Brave Like Ukraine” campaign, when Volodymyr Zelensky told the Ukrainian people that bravery “is our brand.” A month later, Zelensky’s “iconic” fleece jacket sold for over $100,000 at a London auction, after Johnson personally called for “much higher bids” than the starting price.
By then, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces Valeriy Zaluzhny had been pictured wearing an M-TAC shirt that says in English, “Zero Tolerance to Invaders,” while depicting 11th century Kyivan prince Yaroslav the Wise holding the severed head of a vanquished enemy. Zaluzhny has been a fan of M-TAC since before this war began, and was spotted wearing one of their winter coats with an M-TAC patch (“Ukraine in the Fight”) a week before Russia invaded. “TM_Militarist,” of course, highlighted both of these incidents.
Wearing a Star Wars-themed M-TAC shirt that says “Come to the Dark Side,” and “Dominate or Die,” the Ukrainian president appeared “in the form of a hologram” at several tech festivals in June “happening simultaneously” across Europe, to ask them to support a “digital lend-lease” for Ukraine. Behind the scenes footage was spun by various online figures as proof that all of Zelensky’s speeches are produced with green screens. But there was less scrutiny for his M-TAC shirt, which shows the “Dark Side” triumphing over a science-fictional Soviet storm trooper. Months later, Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the U.S. Congress wearing an M-TAC sweater.
Last spring, the manager of US operations for M-TAC told Business Insider that since Russia invaded Ukraine, “he’s been fielding queries from people all over the world” wanting one of the fleece jackets worn by Zelensky. He predicted they will be restocked “someday, maybe after our victory.” According to a more obscure website called “Financial World,” M-TAC’s sales have tripled in the past year, and the brand allegedly “now boasts an annual income of around 150 million euros per year.”
M-TAC has a store on Amazon, with some best-selling items, including #47 in “Men’s Skullies & Beanies” and #11 in “Men’s Military Pants.” M-TAC’s “concealed carry sling bag” is #3 in “Tactical Bag Accessories.” The Amazon store also offers some of M-TAC’s “morale patches,” including plenty with far-right undertones. Several have a background of the Black Sun, or the neo-Nazi symbol used by white supremacist mass murderers in Christchurch, New Zealand and Buffalo, New York. “Odin is calling! Unleash your inner viking…” says M-TAC.USA.
M-TAC has boosted and even given shout outs to what might be called far-right “influencer” groups in the Ukrainian military. Let’s look at one in particular, which appear to have originated in the Azov movement: the unquestionably neo-Nazi “North Side Group.”
The “NS” in North Side (as seen on their merchandise) alludes to “National Socialist,” but that is not necessarily apparent to their 50,000 followers on Instagram. The group appears to have been created in 2019, with at least one of its founders being an Azov member.
The North Side Group (NSG) is associated with the Azov-linked “Skhid” special police force, which in turn was formed by the far-right “Eastern Corps” in Kharkiv, which journalist Oleksiy Kuzmenko described in 2018 as “until recently a virtually autonomous part of the Azov movement.”
By January 2022, even the Skhid commander was wearing NSG patches, and when he made a TikTok, the fourth account he followed was North Side Group. Less than two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, the NSG, the Skhid unit, and its commander all posted on Instagram the same photo of a group posing with both of their flags.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, “TM_Militarist” has on several occassions reposted a Ukrainian illustrator that started collaborating with the North Side Group last summer, and just a month ago made a design for the Skhid police company.
A pair of far-right Ukrainian “influencers” on social media have been associated with NSG — and guess what larger group they both started with?
“Ded Shinobi,” an Azov veteran who started his own brand, has 135,000 followers on Instagram, and almost 100,000 on TikTok. He wears a NSG patch on his helmet, and sometimes another on his arm. NSG sent him a “North Side” hoodie designed by the aforementioned illustrator. In a recent interview, “Shinobi” explained that although he left the Azov Regiment by 2018, “the Azov patronage service still supports me. This is a family.”
David Khimik is another Azov veteran with 265,000 followers on Instagram and 70,000 on TikTok. He has been a fan of NSG since before Russia invaded Ukraine. Khimik made waves when he surrendered to the Russian army in Mariupol covered in menacing tattoos, including a large Black Sun on his right elbow, and a goat’s head covering his back — supposedly a deity worshipped by Satanists.
“Kawukuwali” isn’t an “influencer” by any means, but he works for M-TAC and Militarist, which periodically reposts him on social media. Almost a year ago, a month after Russia invaded Ukraine, he dedicated a post to his boss, Alexander Karasyov. In September, “Kawukuwali” appeared on North Side Group’s Instagram page, making an “OK” hand gesture, and holding their black flag with the “NS” and what resembles a Satanic grim reaper.
Perhaps next time, we will delve further into the far-right online ecosystem that seems to orbit M-TAC, the slogan of which is “Born by revolution — hardened by war.” Alexander Karasyov’s clothing company boasts that it is “worn both by soldiers in the trenches and by political leaders of the state.” Business Insider, one of the few English-language media outlets to write about M-TAC, acknowledged that Zelensky “has popularized the attire through his country’s conflict.” But Ukraine’s “most powerful brand”? Unfortunately, Nazis.