The Company Group Team
Volodymyr Zelensky recently visited the war-torn Donetsk region to mark Special Operations Forces (SOF) Day in Ukraine, which is celebrated on July 29 to commemorate the youngest branch of the military.
At an undisclosed location, reportedly near Bakhmut, the President of Ukraine met with SOF representatives who gifted him a plaque with the chevrons of its various divisions.
Zelensky also received a patch and a flag from the “Company Group Team military community,” which is not officially part of the SOF, but he named this obscure entity before all the others in his social media posts about the “#ChevronsofHeroes from our SOF.”
So the story goes, “Company Group Team” (CGT) was founded in 2018 by a group of soldiers who fought together in an unnamed unit and wanted to promote professionalism in the Ukrainian military.
According to Wikipedia, a company group, or corporate group, is “a collection of parent and subsidiary corporations that function as a single economic entity through a common source of control.”
It’s an open secret that the “company group” is Azov, the famous neo-Nazi movement with many offshoots including two brigades and other units in the armed forces of Ukraine, although some have said that its “focus appears to have shifted over time from ideology to military effectiveness.”
Perhaps it was never really a secret, but there was no denying the obvious after the spring of 2022, when CGT announced that one of its co-founders died in Mariupol while serving in the Azov Regiment in the National Guard of Ukraine (Petro Korol, seen above).
The main representative of the CGT brand is Kate Turchanova, “who has been raising money for soldiers by selling military-style clothing online,” according to the Washington Post. Her boyfriend is the right-hand man to the leader of an explicitly neo-Nazi unit that joined the Azov Regiment and was nearly destroyed in Mariupol.
The “Ведмеді SS” (Vedmedi, “Bears”) adopted the call sign of their neo-Nazi squad leader Oleksandr Kravtsov, and originally served in the Ukrainian Volunteer Army that splintered from the extremist Right Sector. According to BBC News Ukrainian, the “Vedmedi” officially joined the Azov Regiment in the National Guard, and this seems to have been in 2021. Last summer, Kravtsov’s wife participated in the first press conference of the Association of Azovstal Defenders’ Families, which readers of this blog already know is an important facet of the nascent “Azov Lobby.”
Vadim Kitar, the boyfriend of CGT representative Kate Turchanova, chose the call sign “Steiner,” and his social media leaves no doubt that this is a reference to Nazi Waffen-SS commander Felix Steiner. Kitar’s Instagram handle is “steinerwaffen,” and his Facebook account, “Фелукс Штайнер,” says that he works for the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, which Steiner commanded. Kitar’s tattoos include the insignia of the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf, and what is considered to have been one of the most horrific units in the SS, the Dirlewanger Brigade.
Kravtsov and Kitar were captured by Russian forces in Mariupol, but have since been returned to Ukraine in prisoner exchanges. So much for “deNazification.” In December 2020, Kravtsov posted a picture of himself, “Steiner,” and Instagram user “quietseal” in a trench. Earlier that year, the latter was tagged in several of the first Instagram posts by CGT, suggesting that he may be one of its co-founders.
The Azov Regiment, often still called the Azov Battalion, is now the Azov Brigade, but there is also the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade “Azov” in the army, which grew out of the Special Operations Forces “Azov” established in 2022. This partially explains the association of CGT with the SOF.
I first came to notice CGT, and got the impression that it was affiliated with the Azov movement, from keeping tabs on M-TAC, a major military brand in Ukraine owned by a hardcore neo-Nazi backer of Azov. On Instagram, I’ve noticed that M-TAC disproportionately reposts far-right soldiers that rep Azov, CGT, and/or seemingly related brands.
I suspect that M-TAC has played an important role in elevating a far-right ecosystem of brands on the frontlines, including some connected to Nazi-infested military units in Ukraine. Valerii Zaluzhny, the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, is apparently a fan of M-TAC, and has even taken pictures wearing SvaStone, a neo-Nazi clothing brand. Earlier this year, Zaluzhny wore a Company Group Team hoodie when awarding a press officer in the army with the rank of junior lieutenant.
Last September, the National Guard of Ukraine promoted an interview with someone from its elite, NATO-trained Rapid Response Brigade, who was wearing a CGT hoodie and a patch on his chest of the Misanthropic Division, an international neo-Nazi network.
CGT is actually part of a broader “military community” called PSDinfo that wasn’t necessarily started by neo-Nazis but brings together several branding projects that raise money for various military units in Ukraine. Some of these are “Brave Group,” “Only Wars,” “Combat Raccoon,” and “Brother88 Company,” and they might all be crypto-Nazi fundraising projects. “The philosophy of ‘PSDinfo’ is reflected in one phrase,” according to its website: “be a professional.”
PSDinfo acknowledges that Brave Group is a “reconnaissance platoon of the Kraken unit.” The Kraken Regiment is a special forces unit affiliated with the Azov movement. On Instagram, the Brave Group has boosted the Misanthropic Division, and the URL of its Telegram channel includes the number 88, as in “HH,” or “Heil Hitler.” Does this seem like a “depoliticized” movement to you?
Only Wars appears to have grown out of the Azov Regiment in the Special Operations Forces that formed the basis of the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade. This Azov brigade in the Ukrainian army, more overtly neo-Nazi than its counterpart in the National Guard, has overlapping leadership with the political wing and “street branch” of the Azov movement. A prime example is Dmytro Kukharchuk, a battalion commander and leader of the National Corps political party, who wears an Only Wars patch on his combat vest, and has developed close ties to a charity in Chicago.
Only Wars gives the impression that it was co-founded by Instagram users “_badshiba_” (AKA “denis88x”), “v.belik31,” and “x_shevasik_x.” They are evidently in the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade. By 2019, “Denis88” was associated with the National Corps and a gym founded by Kukharchuk. “V.Belik” has Nazi tattoos including a Black Sun and Slavic swastika. Both were pictured wearing CGT hoodies in 2021. “x_shevasik_x” is a straight-edge neo-Nazi with multiple Slavic swastika tattoos who served in the Azov Special Forces group.
Combat Raccoon and Brother88 Company have also hinted at being associated with Azov or some other neo-Nazi group. Last year the NAFO-affiliated brand Saint Javelin partnered with Combat Raccoon, which it described as “an elite Ukrainian military squad fundraising to buy SUVs for frontline defenders.”
The 88 in Brother88 presumably refers to “Heil Hitler,” because this “Company” makes patches with a Nazi wolfsangel symbol. It is tempting to speculate that these brands, or “collectives,” are essentially “subsidiaries” of CGT, and perhaps some of them are, but there are many more out there. The “Company Group Team military community” might just be the most visible tip of a neo-Nazi iceberg, and appears to shatter myths about the Azov movement evolving in a positive direction.