With more than 26,000 followers, Rospartizan embraces anyone who is anti-Putin, regardless of political ideology, a feature, not a bug, according to Ponomarev, a former Communist Party member and self-described “social globalist.”
“Right now I’m not just in touch, I’m very actively interacting not only with my friends on the left of the political spectrum,” he says, “but also with people on the extreme right, who we’re routinely fighting.”
The enemy of my enemy
Roman Popkov, the former head of the Moscow branch of the National-Bolshevik party, falls into this far-right camp. Popkov used to be a member of the influential Russian National Unity, a defunct neo-Nazi group responsible for a series of racist crimes, before joining the political party founded by the controversial Russian writer, poet and dissident Eduard Limonov, which aimed to unite radicals extreme left and extreme right on the same platform.
In 2006, after years of harassment by Russian security forces, Popkov was arrested and spent more than two years in pretrial detention at the infamous Butyrka prison. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that his detention was illegal and that his detention was considered to be motivated by his political activism.
Popkov, who now resides in Ukraine, works as a journalist for several independent media outlets and is the head of a recently launched media project called Poslezavtra, or “The Day After Tomorrow.” An “old friend” of Ponomarev, Popkov has participated extensively in the February Morning programs and participated in the broadcast that followed Dugina’s murder.
“We are covering direct actions aimed at the military and the apparatus of political repression of the Putin regime,” Popkov says by phone. “First of all, we’re trying to inspire people, to take action, and secondly, we inform and report on what’s being done.”
Like Ponomarev, Popkov stresses that activists’ ideologies are not as important as the willingness to challenge the Putin regime and oppose the war in Ukraine.
“Our collective unites people opposed to the Putin regime, with different political views and ideologies,” says Popkov. “At the moment, it is not so important whether one is an anarchist, nationalist or liberal, since, as Russia is not a democracy, we have no representation in parliament and cannot vote for our candidates.”
According to Popkov, acts of sabotage in Russia are mostly the work of small-scale far-right and far-left groups, the most famous of which is the Anarcho-Communist Combat Organization, or BO-AK. The organization rose to prominence after sabotaging the railway leading to a Russian military arsenal in the small town of Kirzach, 100 km east of Moscow. The group shared photos of the sabotage on its own Telegram channel, which quickly spread to other anti-Putin channels, including Rospartizan, and was soon featured on the February Morning broadcast.
However, even die-hard BO-AK anarchists recognize the need to reach out to the other side of the political spectrum. “Most of our contacts are from our ideological camp, but not all,” an anonymous representative of the group tells WIRED. “We believe that alliances with different forces are necessary in our struggle.”