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Ukraine embraces far-right Russian ‘bad guy’ to take the battle to Putin – POLITICO

Ukraine embraces far-right Russian ‘bad guy’ to take the battle to Putin – POLITICO
Ukraine embraces far-right Russian ‘bad guy’ to take the battle to Putin – POLITICO

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From football fields to the battlefield

The 40-year-old Kapustin was born in Moscow. He moved with his parents at the age of 17 to Cologne, Germany, where he quickly established a fearsome reputation as a street-brawling white-power skinhead always up for a punch-up with everyone, especially Antifa activists. He tells POLITICO he was unhappy with the move and missed his friends and felt disconnected.

He’s long been prominent on the European football hooliganism and far-right martial arts fight club scene — participating in the riots at the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament in the French port city of Marseille. After he moved to Kyiv, Germany canceled his residency in 2019 and imposed a Schengen-entry ban on him for “efforts against the liberal democratic constitution.”

He has links with American neo-Nazi groups, and in 2021 co-hosted a podcast with Robert Rundo, founder of the Rise Above Movement, which participated in the Charlottesville white supremacist rally.

Nonetheless, Kapustin bristles at being called a neo-Nazi himself, even though he is hazy about what he is. He relishes sparring with Western journalists, seeing how awkward many of them feel interviewing him, torn between disapproval of his far-right ideology and hooligan history and their sympathy for Ukraine, not wanting to put the county in a bad light for Western liberal audiences.

“Will you try to remain unbiased?” he asks. “It is a very funny position for you and your colleagues because you all have been trying hard to put us in a bad light for years. Neo-Nazis, racist, white supremacists, terrible guys, blah, blah, blah. And then the darkest hour in Ukraine’s modern day history arrives. And all of a sudden the eternal bad guys turn out to be brave, courageous, determined, stubborn and heroes. And they’re like, ‘damn, how should I write about them?’”

Kapustin thoroughly savors his notoriety. “Throughout my life, I always wanted to be the Hollywood-style bad guy. Darth Vader is my ultimate inspiration. At the age of seven, I watched Star Wars, and was like, ‘wow this guy’s so cool,’” he says.



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