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Inside Putin’s ruthless ‘Hispaniola’ private army of neo-Nazis and football ultras | World | News

Inside Putin’s ruthless ‘Hispaniola’ private army of neo-Nazis and football ultras | World | News

Ukrainian intelligence claims that Vladimir Putin’s party, ‘United Russia’, is allegedly establishing its own private army named the ‘Hispaniola’ mercenary company. According to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s intelligence service (GUR), this group includes football ultras, radicals, and individuals sympathetic to neo-Nazi ideologies.

The ‘Hispaniola’ mercenary company was previously associated with the Russian militant group Vostok Battalion, operating mainly in the partially occupied Ukrainian region of Donetsk. Initially, it was a volunteer unit of Russian football hooligans.

The GUR reports that since 2023, ‘United Russia’ has taken control of ‘Hispaniola’, designating it as a private military company and actively recruiting members using the party’s own funds. The recruitment strategy includes targeting football ultras, radicals, and neo-Nazi sympathisers, with a focus on impoverished regions of Russia.

The GUR statement reveals that recruitment efforts are concentrated in Ukrainian territories partially occupied by Russia since the invasion began on February 24. Volunteers are promised a monthly payment of 220,000 roubles (£1,900) for at least six months at the front, along with insurance payouts ranging from 1-3 million rubles (up to £26,000) in case of injury and 5 million rubles (over £43,000) in the event of death.

However, the GUR suggests that financial incentives serve as a mere cover, stressing that for many recruits, participation could be a one-way ticket. Allegedly, the Russians register the dead or seriously wounded as “missing” to evade compensation obligations to the relatives.

A closer look at ‘Hispaniola’s’ Telegram channel reveals its composition as a group of ultras from Russian football camps engaged in the conflict in Ukraine.

The group’s leader, Stanislav Orlov, known as “The Spaniard”, has been leading the group in the Donetsk region for at least eight years.

Orlov, described as a “dangerous ultra linked to the CSKA Moscow football team”, claims to have joined the Russian army in 1999 and fought in the Second Chechen War. He reportedly moved to Ukraine in 2014 to support the Donbas uprising with a group of ultras.

Despite ‘Hispaniola’ being just one of many such groups, Moscow appears to continue relying on irregular mercenaries. This revelation comes in the wake of the brief uprising of the Wagner Group last year and the prevalence of private military companies owned by Russia’s affluent and influential figures.

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