The Azov Lobby
As previously reported on “Ukes, Kooks & Spooks” last year, the Azov movement in Ukraine sent a delegation to the United States that met numerous members of Congress (Pt. 1, Pt. 2), followed by two trips to Washington and New York by a neo-Nazi press officer of the Azov Regiment (Pt. 1, Pt.2).
More recently, another Azov delegation visited Israel as its far-right government came to power. Meanwhile in western Ukraine, Azov’s military forces staged a “viking longboat burning ceremony” at which the far-right movement seemed to unveil a sanitized version of its Nazi wolfsangel symbol. The new emblem was first introduced last summer for “Support Azov,” an international charity wing created in 2022.
Azov’s “official charity fund” was established in July. Its “project manager” is Oleg Petrenko, a veteran of the Azov Battalion. As a member of Ukrainian parliament in 2014–19, Petrenko became an unofficial leader of the National Corps, established in 2016 as the political wing of the Azov movement and led by its neo-Nazi founder, Andriy Biletsky. “Support Azov” was created on the initiative of Biletsky, who infamously once said that it is Ukraine’s mission to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade…against semite-led untermenschen [subhumans].”
Like Denys Prokopenko, the commander of the Azov Regiment whose wife participated in last year’s delegation to the United States, and Dmytro Kukharchuk, another leader of the National Corps who recorded a thank you video to Support Azov’s partners in Detroit for donating several trucks, Oleg Petrenko is a former football ultra, and proud of it.
Prokopenko was apparently once part of the “White Boys Club,” and Kukharchuk was with the Cherkasy Ultras, both violent groups that embraced neo-Nazism and the Azov movement. Oleg Petrenko was officially a representative of the Cherkasy Ultras but has been pictured repping the “White Boys Club,” including with the founder of SvaStone, an affiliated white supremacist clothing brand. According to the Support Azov website, “Our volunteer community is one of the most close-knit, as AZOV is first and foremost a brotherhood of ideologically close people.”
Kateryna Prokopenko, who is married to the Azov Regiment commander, directs the Azovstal Defenders’ Families Association, which more or less became part of Support Azov. This Association, created earlier in 2022, inherited the social media accounts of a magazine that was “sponsored by the Azov Regiment” and disseminated within Ukraine’s “premier military education institution and a major hub for Western military assistance to the country,” according to journalist Olekisy Kuzmenko.
Support Azov has partnered with at least a few Ukrainian American organizations: “United Support for Ukraine” (USU) in Detroit, “Help Heroes of Ukraine” (HHU) in Chicago, and “Moya Ukraine” in Farmington, Connecticut. USU sponsored a fundraiser event with the Azov delegation that raised $33,416 for Support Azov. In the coming days, HHU won an Azov Regiment banner auctioned in Chicago. Neither of these groups existed before Russia’s invasion, but both use warehouse spaces provided by Ukrainian-owned trucking companies.
Igor Terletsky, the president of HHU, is the CEO of Patriot Transport, Inc., which says it operates a fleet of “more than 240 tractor-trailer units out of seven terminals in Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas, Florida and California.” Help Heroes of Ukraine was reportedly founded by a group of “Ukrainian logistics and transportation companies,” but Terletsky’s business is obviously spearheading the operation. In 2019, former truck drivers for Patriot Transport filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Terletsky and co. routinely underpaid them as independent contractors by taking advantage of their limited English language skills.
The Support Azov website singles out Moya Ukraine, Inc. as the charity for US supporters of the Azov movement to send their donations. This obscure group, based in a suburb of Hartford, Connecticut, dates back to 2014, but formed a 501(c)3 organization last spring. One of its leaders is a self-described Banderite, or follower of the Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera (1909–59), but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the charity is involved with the organized OUN-B cult, which extends to that area. The Hartford branch of the Ukrainian American Youth Association, a Banderite “facade structure,” is named for an OUN-B military leader and Nazi collaborator.
Over the last few weeks, Azov started reaching out to NAFO, the “North Atlantic Fellas Organization,” an informal “internet army” of Twitter trolls previously highlighted on “Ukes, Kooks & Spooks.” Many in NAFO have adopted Azov’s wolfsangel symbol. On Christmas, an Estonian “fella” published a video of “Azovstal legend Gandalf” — Illia Samoilenko, deputy commander of the Azov Regiment — sending greetings, apparently from Israel, and requesting NAFO’s help. “We are right now restoring our battle potential,” Samoilenko said. “Right The Fuck On,” commented the Nazi edgelord turned NAFO founder.
The Estonian “fella,” entrepreneur Ragnar Sass, runs the “NAFO 69th Sniffing Brigade,” or a “NAFO Convoy” of trucks regularly donated and delivered to the frontlines. His outfit, which jokingly claims to be supported by “a secret network in 26 different countries,” auctioned a flag signed by “Gandalf.” During the first week of 2023, Sass published a video of the Azov-affiliated Kraken Regiment sending greetings to the “fellas” with their small convoy of newly delivered NAFO-themed vehicles. “Our favorite monster,” said the Estonian entrepreneur.
Days later, “Gandalf” signed an Azov flag for NAFO micro-celebrity Paul Massaro, “a mind-numbingly stupid empty phrasemonger,” and a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Helsinki Commission, who apparently sees himself as the second coming of Charlie Wilson. “Why does social media consistently side with tyrants?” bemoaned Massaro after Instagram removed his post of “Gandalf” signing the extremist flag.
“I think something has to be done in the US Congress regarding language in US law restricting any help to Azov,” commented a prominent “civil society activist” who presented signed Ukrainian flags to Nancy Pelosi and the U.S. Secretary of Defense on separate occasions in 2022. “There is a complete misunderstanding of what Azov is now,” she said. “The US fell under russian [sic] propaganda about alleged Ukrainian nazis.”
“Let’s do it!” said Massaro. Readers of my “Ukes, Kooks & Spooks” piece on NAFO already know that last year he had a public fling with Alona Shevchenko, a provocative Ukrainian crypto grifter in Britain who declared herself the Queen of NAFO. Many in the “internet army,” including its upper echelon, have come to dread the “Cult of Alona.” In July, the month that Support Azov launched, Shevchenko announced that her “Decentralized Autonomous Organization” (DAO) “will be officially supporting Azov Regiment.” Excuse me for quoting myself:
Days later, Shevchenko traveled to Ukraine and met with Olena Semenyaka, the notorious female figurehead of the Azov movement. Shevchenko truly went off the deep end. Via Ukraine DAO, she began to compile a Twitter list of “Russian Foreign Assets,” starting with the New York Times. She also added Reuters, Axios, Euronews, Meduza, The Independent, and Bellingcat, among many others. She claimed that Ukraine DAO was “working with” Azov to combat “info attacks” against them.
Olena Semenyaka, one of the leaders of the National Corps, shared a picture on Christmas Eve with Alona Shevchenko wearing a Support Azov shirt, and Shevchenko clarified: “My work in the info space is focused on: [1.] defense of Ukraine [2.] supporting Azov Regiment…” The extremist clout-chasing Shevchenko was once banned from Twitter for claiming “Russians are not people.” Shevchenko apparently cherishes her relationship with Semenyaka, which might partially explain her embrace of Nazi-like rhetoric in 2022.
The involvement of Olena Semenyaka in Support Azov is probably a bigger red flag than Oleg Petrenko, the former football ultra. Semenyaka, said to be the international secretary of the National Corps, leads the party’s far-right geopolitical “Intermarium project.” However she recently admitted that Support Azov takes up a “considerable part of my current activities.” Petrenko and Semenyaka manage different undertakings of the Azov movement that are actually two sides of the same crypto-Nazi coin. Stay tuned for Part 2: “The Intermarium Project.”
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