In February this year, Russia's FSB released a sensationalist report on the arrest of the three members of a "neo-Nazi Ukrainian group", the MKU, which allegedly operated on the Russian territory. Almost all Russian media emphasized in their news headlines that this group was "Ukrainian".
But, as it turned out a little later, all the detainees were Russian citizens, while all material seized during searches (literature, symbols and paraphernalia) completely lacked the Ukrainian context. Moreover, actual Russian neo-Nazi organizations were outraged by the arrest because, firstly, they were surprised such an organization as the MKU even existed without their knowledge, and secondly, because the detainees had been members of the Russian Corps, a quite real neo-Nazi group!
In fact, it was the first time Russians ever heard about the MKU (Maniacs. Cult of Killers) when the three thugs were arrested in Voronezh. And it was precisely the FSB who delivered the original report which was then immediately picked up by Russian media.
Then, on February 18, in my piece "Neo-Nazi Russia is again cultivating fakes about 'Ukrainian fascism'", I focused on the fact that this is not the first time when a certain Ukrainian "neo-Nazi" group emerges in the Russian infospace literally out of thin air, aimed to terrify and intimidate worse than the ISIS.
In particular, I recalled the story of how the Misanthropic Division group emerged in the media space – the organization that had never actually existed in Ukraine until a Polish radical on a short Russian leash, Tomasz Maciejczuk, started telling boogeyman stories about it. This Pole, who poses as a "Russophobe" only to conceal his Russia ties, told these stories on notoriously propagandistic panel shows on Russian TV.
It was Tomasz Maciejczuk and his curator from the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Dmitry Yermolaev, editor-in-chief of the Federal weekly Rossiiskie Vesti, and concurrently co-chairof the Eurasian Popular Front (ENF) and the Anti-Bandera Movement, who designed a fake story about some Ukrainian neo-Nazi group, Misanthropic Division. Subsequently, when the project turned out to be a success in the media space, it received additional funding and a number of staged actions were carried out for which this mysterious "Misanthropic Division" claimed responsibility – all aimed at discrediting Ukraine in the eyes of the international community.
In fact, "Misanthropic Division" was a project by the Russian SVR, being at the time a potential branch of the FSB. Recently, however, the confrontation between the two agencies' leaders has escalated, so the issue of any joint projects has become quite burdensome. Therefore, the FSB decided to repeat the relative success of the Misanthropic Division on their own.
And exactly in a month, the FSB conducts a major raid, detaining who the agency claimed were members of the "Ukrainian" neo-Nazi group, MKU. Thirteen were arrested in Gelendzhik and another one in Yaroslavl. Moreover, the FSB claimed the group was supervised from Kyiv and Kharkiv.
Surprisingly (actually, not), almost all of these "Ukrainian" neo-Nazis are also citizens of Russia, former members of Russian neo-Nazi groups, including the “Russian Corps”! Moreover, they regularly took part in various events praising ideas of the revival of the Russian Empire, preaching pagan cults, and at the same voicing absolutely no pro-Ukrainian rhetoric.
So, what is actually happening in Russia? Why is it so important for the Russian FSB and propaganda media to cultivate among Russians a narrative about a certain "Ukrainian" neo-Nazi group operating on Russian soil?
Currently, we can see how Russian propaganda is cultivating – primarily for domestic audiences – a narrative about the "Ukrainian threat". On the one hand, they keep spinning regular reports about the "impending offensive" by the Ukrainian Army in Donbas (which never started over the past month despite those hysterical claims, which makes claims by Russian propaganda pundits even more ridiculous), and on the other hand, the FSB reports that some kind of "SBU spies" have been exposed in the occupied Crimea and mainland Russia. And all this is being circulated along the lines of intimidating Russians by the invented "Ukrainian neo-Nazis". Looking at this set of measures undertaken by Russian intelligence simultaneously, there comes an unnerving suggestion that this all could lead to some major and bloody provocation. For example, this could be some terrorist act, with dozens of victims. And of course, it would be "Ukrainian saboteurs" or "Ukrainian neo-Nazis" who would be blamed.
The FSB's MKU project was created for a reason. In the same way as the 1999 explosions in apartment blocks in Moscow, Buinaksk and Volgodonsk gave the Kremlin carte blanche to launch the second Chechen war, the FSB could now attempt to play their new marked card – the sham "MKU" project.