Russian neo-Nazi group refuses to fight in Ukraine, accusing Kremlin of abandoning its leader

A Russian neo-Nazi paramilitary group that supported the Wagner mercenary rebellion has announced it will no longer fight in Ukraine, accusing the Kremlin of abandoning its leader.

The group, called Rusich, said that its leader Yan Petrovsky was arrested last month when he tried to pass through Helsinki airport and that Russian diplomats have ignored his pleas for help.

“Since July 20, Yan Petrovsky has not been visited by either the Russian consul or a lawyer. The Slav is threatened with extradition to Ukraine either directly or through a third country in a fictitious criminal case,” it said, using Petrokvsky’s military call sign.

“Rusich stops performing any combat missions,” it said on its Telegram channel. “If a country cannot protect its citizens, then why should citizens defend the country?”

Petrovsky has been accused of war crimes and Ukrainian officials want to put him on trial.

Rusich was set up in 2014 and is open about its pro-Nazi views. Even alongside Wagner, it was known for its brutality.

In April Rusich posted a video on its Telegram channel of a Ukrainian prisoner being beheaded with a knife. Its leaders have also filmed themselves killing puppies.

Rusich has criticised the Russian ministry of defence’s handling of its invasion of Ukraine and, although it wasn’t directly involved, it supported Wagner’s rebellion in June that was called off 120 miles from Moscow.

After the death of Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin this week in a plane crash widely blamed on Vladimir Putin, Rusich said: “Let this be a lesson to you all. You always have to go all the way.”

Since the Wagner rebellion, the Kremlin appears to have begun a crackdown on Russian mercenary and paramilitary groups.

Wagner’s camp in Belarus is being dismantled and its former fighters are being made to pledge their allegiance to Putin.

Rusich also said that two Ukrainian intelligence officers had already interrogated Petrovsky in Finland.

“It remains incomprehensible (actually understandable) why our diplomatic wing in Finland is engaged in sabotage, turning a blind eye to the detention and interrogation of citizens by intelligence officers of the country that we are actually fighting a war against,” it said.