On April 21, The SBU, Ukrainian intelligence service, raided the apartment of Oleksii Bolenkov, a Belarus activist who sought refuge in Ukraine following persecution by the regime of Belarus president Oleksandr Lukashenko. Bolenkov now faces deportation after Minsk claims he is a ‘Maydan militant’ who was behind last year protests in Belarus. While in Ukraine the activist, who has resided in Kyiv for several years, has been involved in civil and human rights’ projects helping Belarus activists and refugees.
Bukvy reporter Oleksii Kuzhelnii was attacked by far right activists at Kyiv courthouse the day the latter was considering Bolenkov’s case. The assailant spat at the journalist and punched him – in a broad daylight, and with police failing to intervene.
Far-right groups staged a rally at the court calling for extradition of the Belarus activist from Ukraine. One of the rally organizers Oleksii Svynarenko known as ‘Stalker’ aggressively confronted ‘Bukvy’ reporter with a verbal abuse while the far-right crowd kept chanting offensive slogans.
The violent incident took place seconds after Svynarenko retreated into the crowd when another protester identified as Mykhailo Shalankevych spat at the reporter and punched him in the face with non-reaction coming from law-enforcement officer standing nearby.
What is Mykhaylo Shalankevych known for
‘Bukvy’ looked into his past record and this is what we have found.
Mykhaylo (Mikhail) Shalankevych who calls himself ‘Gans’ (his online handle is gansss88) is a Russian nationalist. Convicted in his home country on charges of disorderly conduct and robbery, he later popped up in Ukraine to form a new far-right group here.
He is known as a close associate of Russian far-right ‘Restrukt’ group leader Maxim ‘Tesak’ Martsinkevich. The latter was first inducted in 2013 when he disrupted a TV discussion led by Oleksey Navalny by performing a Nazi salute and yelling ‘Seig Heil!’. The far-right group leader also dabbled in making racist-content videos, one of those imitating an execution of Tajik mirgrant got him half a year extra in prison. After his release from jail, ‘Tesak’ staged raids against drug dealers and soon ended up in behind the bars again where he died from the unknown causes.
Mykhail Shalankevich was inducted by Moscow court in 2018 as ‘Tesak’ accomplice on charges on disorderly conduct, robbery, intentional body harm, and intentional damage to property. In December of the same year, he was released on serving the full term in a pre-trial detention facility.
Shalankevich and Martsynkevich in Russian court
After his release, Shalankevich ‘turned the page’ moving to Ukraine. According to reports, the Russian far-right activist was granted entry in 2020, at the time of Zelenksy presidency.
Bukvy filed official information requests with State Border Service and State Migration Service asking to clarify on status of the Russian far-right convict who is now residing in Ukraine.
A Russian neo-Nazi at the helm of Ukrainian far-right organization
Moving to Ukraine, Shalankevich soon formed a group called ‘Alternativa’. Led by Russian ex-convict proclaims its members claim they want to ‘make the country better’, while its charter shares the same principles endorsed by Martsinkevich far-right groups.
Leather-clad Shalankevich is second from the right
Far-right group social media presence
Social media accounts of its members show the organization has several dozens members of different ages- from teenagers to elder men- sharing ultranationalist, far-right views. ‘ No step back, only forward! Death, death, death!’
Their posts often boast photos with allegedly airbrushed swastikas to avoid removal of such images by the platform administrators
In photos they are often seen performing a Nazi salute while drinking despite their hard-line stance on alcohol.
‘Seig Heil!” is a common flaunt for group members. In the video they are pictured perfoming a scandalous gesture while waiting for the gang leader – ‘waiting for this a***hole’, says one of the group members.
The Shalankevich group acts drew attention of Ukrainian media. There were stories about, oddly enough, Russian-speaking young men and women with Nazi-related imagery marching around Kyiv downtown, boasting arms and pepper-spraying teenagers in Podol neighborhood.
Social media post of @ user 13_staff_12 shows ‘Gans’ Shalankevish and Zigunova in company of ‘Alternative’ activists
In their Instagram accounts, ‘Gans’ associates often repost images of Russian peers from 2000s when ‘Tesak’ group staged their racist attacks.
Image calling to kill labor migrants from Asia
Shalankevich often hosts visits from other Russians, like Denis Dvizhovski, an ultra-right football group ‘Einfach Jugen’ (CSKA, Moscow). Its members are known as avid supporters of separatists’ ‘Novorossiaya’ movement.
Dvizhkovski’s social media photos of 2015 show him with nationalist Georgian ribbon and medals and wearing a t-shirt with ‘Jugend’ group images. There are also Instagram posts and stories about his several visits to Ukraine.
The young man was involved in a 2021 assault on a young couple in Kyiv and now faces charges of disorderly conduct with his case now pending in Kyiv Podil Court.
The girl in the photo above is identified as Kateryna Logunova known as ‘Zigunova’ or ‘Tesak’s daughter’. She avoided indiction in Russia by moving to Ukraine.
The girl claims she was made to move citing three court cases she was facing in Russia for ‘her active work hunting drug dealers’ she chose to dodge. Entering Ukraine, she cited a different reason claiming she was ‘politically persecuted’. The Russian media outlet ‘Meduza’ reported that in Russia she faced a restriction of movement banning her from leaving Moscow after a petty theft accusations – she allegedly stole a Zippo lighter. Logunova was known as a coordinator for ‘Tesak’ regional offshoot groups. – as of 2014, there were about 40 of such local groups. Logunova said that in Ukraine she was planning to work on ‘social projects’. Obviously, it is what Criminal Code calls ‘robbery’ and intentional body harm, the things her group fellows were known for in Russia.
In 2020-2021, she helped Shalankevich to pick the game up where they left it off in Russia.
There is more evidence of ‘Gans’ Shalankevich links to Russian Neonazi organizations.
In the photo below he is picture holding a placard ‘I WE (are) Maks Tesak’
‘I WE’ is a solidarity symbol used in Russia by different civil activists and even aw enforcement supporters.
It is commonly appropriated by Russian neo-Nazi groups.
‘Alternative’ forrays in Ukraine
The group provides ‘home’ to members of different Russian far-right organizations with its activists ‘campaigning’ against drug dealers and illegal alcohol sales, staging hunts against pedophiles, and promoting a ‘healthy’ lifestyle and ‘Tesak’ neoNazi ideas in Ukraine.
In the video below Russian far-right activists are captured assailing a Ukrainian youth in a street – they accuse the boy of ‘doing drugs’ ‘educate’ him with a rosy-colored dildo, which probably was a teaching method of Tesak.
When confronting alleged pedophiles, ‘Alternative’ activists can also use vegetables as an ‘educational’ tool.
The group was seen rallying against new housing development in Kyiv with its Russian leader claiming in video ‘they will not allow our heritage being taken from us’.
Its activists make frequent public raids to the downtown Podil neighborhood to track and bully, both verbally and physically, people drinking alcohol. In videos ‘Alternative’ members share online they are captured violently attacking their victims.
In a video sent to Bukvy by one of its readers, ‘Gans’ Shalankevich allegedly attacks two youths in Kyiv abusing one of them over an ‘inappropriate’ haircut.
Bukvy asks readers to provide other footage of the incident if available as the attacker’s blurred face in the video makes it impossible to correctly identify the offender.
Shalankevich run-ins with the law in Ukraine
Before the recent attack on Bukvy reporter, Shalankevich was involved in another offence – his case of hooliganism is now in Kyiv Podil Court pending final decision.
After the first incident, ‘Alternative’ group leader entertained himself in the police station filming a video with his accomplice Zigunova.
While Zagitova has been virtually non-present on social media, ‘Gans’ Shalankevich has been rather active online – commenting, providing updates on his activities, and posting images that show him working out, hanging out, acting as a referee at far-right group sport contests.
Soon after the assault on ‘Bukvy’ reporter, his social media page was taken down.
The ‘Alternative’ Telegram channel, though is still up and running – it keeps sharing ads promoting neo-Nazi books and manifestos by ‘Tesak’ Martsynkevich.
They even rally against Yanukovych-regime party ‘Party of Regions’.
Who is a typical Ukrainian youth that falls for neo-Nazi rhetoric of Shalankevich
Content of ‘Alternatyva’ group members’ social accounts is strikingly identical.
Here is the common story of the group member who goes under the name _babak_yarik_
What alarms here is that the average-looking underage boy and his school friends post photos of themselves from questionable ‘rallies’ and ‘raids’ around Kyiv instead of reading for high school exams.
their girlfriends selfies posing in miniskirts puffing on a cigarettes provide a striking backdrop to the story.
‘Bukvy’ finds it disturbing to see schoolchildren lured by and recruited with such extremist rhetoric of Russian neo-Nazi ‘Tesak’. His former associate ‘Gans’ Shalankevich is now successfully planting such things in heads of Ukrainian youths.
This is, probably, how Russian neo-Nazis see the idea of ‘re-establishing order’ in Ukraine.
Critical response to attack on ‘Bukvy’ reporter
The violent act against our reporter that took place outside the Kyiv courthouse was met with strong condemnation, both domestically and internationally. The words of support for ‘Bukvy’ came from Yuriy Gudymenko, one of ‘Demokratychna Sokyra’ leaders. The assault on Oleksandr Kuzhelnii was also slammed by ‘European Solidarity’ Kyiv council member Oleksandr Pogrebyskii.
‘Bukvy’ filed official requests to State Border Service and State Migration Service for details on legal grounds allowing a Russian ex-convict to reside in Ukraine. We also have reported the offense to Kyiv police. Our journalist even had to take a COVID test to make sure there is no risk of infection after the right-wing extremist spat him in the face.
The team of ‘Bukvy’ news outlet strongly denounces passive response of law-enforcement agencies to such blatant attack against the media worker and is eager to provide any help to held the offenders accountable.
As an independent media organization, ‘Bukvy’ is no stranger to situations when our reporters have to deal with threats and violence.
In late 2019, ‘Servant of the People’ MP Bohdan Yaremenko threatened our photographer after the disgraceful revelations showing the MP was exchanging text messages with a prostitute. Back then, ‘Bukvy’ got support from volunteer lawyers and National Union of Ukrainian Journalists.
In September, 2020, our reporter faced the similar threats from then ‘Servant of the People’ MP Yevhen Shevchenko.
In 2019 ‘Bukvy’ was also targeted by a lawsuit from Viktor Medvedchuk, the ‘Opposition Platform for Life’ party leader and closest friend of Russia’s president. The politician took the media outlet owners Kateryna Roshuk and Petro Terentyev to court over the news story on his lawsuit against film-makers of Vasyl Stus biopic. The court decision in that case is still pending.