Russian MMA fighter runs for office while serving in Ukraine war

Russian MMA fighter Vladimir Mineev is expected to participate in the election process for the People’s Council of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) while still serving in Ukraine war.

By: Karim Zidan | 2 months ago
Russian MMA fighter runs for office while serving in Ukraine war
Credit: IMAGO / Russian Look

Vladimir Mineev—the Russian MMA fighter who volunteered to take part in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine—appears to be entering the political fray. 

Mineev recently revealed that he has registered as a prospective candidate for the People’s Council in the Donetsk People’s Republic, an Russian-occupied region in eastern Ukraine. 

“Vladimir Mineev submitted documents for participation in the preliminary vote,” Mineev’s team told Russian state-owned news agency TASS. “He plans to participate in the election of deputies of the People’s Council of the DPR.”

The 33-year-old former paratrooper volunteered to participate in the Ukraine war on the condition that he be allowed to take part in one last kickboxing bout prior to serving. He trained for the bout in the occupied city of Mariupol in Ukraine and went on to defeat Brazil’s Fernando Rodriguez by TKO on Nov. 18, 2022. He joined the war shortly thereafter and is currently stationed in Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that is currently occupied by Russian forces. 

“It was such a difficult year for me. You all understand what I mean,” Mineev told the crowd in Moscow following his win. “And it is, in fact, just the beginning for me. I want to take a break in my sports life. You know that I received a summons, I have objective reasons not to go there. But for myself, I have already made a decision and I am going to fulfill it.”

Mineev is far from the only MMA fighter to take up arms in the Ukraine war. 

In March 2022, a kickboxing champion and member of the controversial Azov regiment, an ultra-nationalist unit of the National Guard of Ukraine that includes neo-Nazis, was killed while fighting in Mariupol. Three months later, Ukrainian boxer Oleg Prudky died on the frontlines of the war. 

A Polish MMA fighter named Tomasz Walentek who volunteered for the International Defense Legion of Ukraine was killed in August 2022 following Russian artillery shelling in the Donbas region. Maksym Galinichev, a Ukrainian boxer who was a medalist at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games, and  Ukrainian kickboxing champion Vitaly Merinov were both killed in action in March 2023. 

Most recently, a Russian Greco-Roman wrestler and son of a former sports minister in the Russian-occupied Crimea, was killed in action on April 7, 2023. 

According to Youth and Sports Minister Vadym Gutzeit, more than 250 Ukrainian athletes have been killed since the Ukraine war began on Feb. 24, 2022.  This has led Ukraine to lobby for the continued exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sports, especially in the wake of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) willingness to consider Russia and Belarus’ return to international competitions as neutrals.

IOC President Thomas Bach advised sports federations that individual athletes from the aforementioned countries should be allowed to return to competition under a neutral status—without an identifying flag or national anthem—as long as they do not show solidarity with their country’s ongoing invasion and are not linked to the country’s military or national security agencies. And while the restrictions would significantly limit Russia’s pool of Olympic athletes, critics questioned the effectiveness of the proposed restrictions.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s government issued a decree banning Ukrainian athletes and sports federations from participating in international events that allowed Russian or Belarusians to compete.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider subscribing to the Bloody Elbow Substack to enjoy our daily premium content. Your paid subscriptions are helping build our new site and keeping hope alive that our staff will remain in tact. If you haven’t already, please pledge with a paid subscription today.

Subscribe to Karim’s Sports Politika newsletter.

Share this story

About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

More from the author

Recent Stories