Neo-Nazi MMA promoter Denis Kapustin behind recent anti-Putin raid on Russian city of Belgorod

Russian Neo Nazi Denis Kapustin, aka Nikitin, has claimed responsibility for an attack against Russian forces in the city of Belgorod.

By: Tim Bissell | 4 months ago
Neo-Nazi MMA promoter Denis Kapustin behind recent anti-Putin raid on Russian city of Belgorod
Denis Kapustin after his Russian Volunteer Corps conducted a raid on Belgorod, Russia. IMAGO/NurPhoto

On May 22 a raid was launched against the Russian city of Belgorod, which is located along the Russia-Ukraine border. The raid included tanks, armoured vehicles and dozens of troops. Russian sources claimed the raid was repelled by Russian armed forces and that around 70 attackers were killed.

The Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR) and Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) have claimed responsibility for the raid.

Both groups are Ukraine-based paramilitary organizations made up of Russian citizens opposed to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The RVC is lead by Denis Kapustin, also known as Nikitin. Readers of Bloody Elbow might be familiar with his background.

Denis Kapustin founded Nazi MMA brand White Rex

Kapustin was born in Moscow in 1984 and moved to Germany with his family as a teenager. In Germany he founded the white nationalist clothing brand and MMA promotion called White Rex.

White Rex was established in 2008. The logo features a stylized black sun Nazi symbol and the name has been described as standing for “White Heterosexual Reactionary Xenophobe.”

From 2011 to 2015 Kapustin organized MMA events under the White Rex banner. During that time White Rex also hired former Bellator champion Alexander Shlemenko to train its fighters.

In 2017 Kapustin joined Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, a far-right paramilitary regiment that has become entrenched within Ukraine’s regular military since the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 (the latest in a series of assaults on Ukraine by Russia and Russian-backed forces).

In Ukraine, Kapustin organized MMA events for the Avoz Battalion and its supporters. Those events attracted American white supremacist Robert Rundo, whose Rise Above Movement was styled as the “premier MMA fight club of the alt-right.”

Kapustin and Rundo would later start a podcast together.

What Denis Kapustin said about Belgorod raid

In the wake of the Belgorod raid, Denis Kapustin spoke from the Ukranian side of the border (per SkyNews)

“I think you will see us again on that side,” he said. “I cannot reveal those upcoming things, I cannot even reveal the direction. The… border is pretty long, yet again there will be a spot where things will get hot.”

Kapustin then claimed that his group held 42 square kilometres of Russian territory “for quite a while” during the raid.

“We’re fighting for freedom,” Kapustin continued. “We’re fighting against injustice, so we’re fighting against torture, we’re fighting against terrible acts of police brutality.”

When asked if his group was using weapons supplied by the US, Kapustin said: “I know exactly where I got my weapons from – unfortunately not from the Western partners.”

“Our future plans are new territories of the Russian Federation, which we will definitely enter,” Kapustin added. “You should be just a little bit patient, and wait just a couple of days.”

When asked about his long association with Nazism, Kapustin said he didn’t consider being labelled a Nazi an insult.

“I have my set of views, it’s a patriotic set of views, it’s a traditionalist set of views, it’s a right-wing set of views,” he said. “You know, you’ll never find me waving a flag with a swastika, you’ll never find me raising my hand in a Hitler sign, so why would you call me that?”

Earlier this year Kapustin was placed on Russia’s most wanted list, per the Amsterdam-based The Moscow Times newspaper.

Russian outlets are claiming that the raid left a lot of destroyed US and/or NATO equipment behind. We are not linking to those outlets at this time but here is a screen shot from RT, shared simply with the intention of showing what the Russian government is telling its audience.

Screenshot from claiming to show NATO weapons destroyed inside Russia
Image via Andrei Martyanov on YouTube.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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