Nine lives of anarchist Petrov. The story of an activist from Russia who fought for Ukraine and died near Bakhmut
Dmitry Petrov, 33, was known to friends and associates under different names — Ilya Leshy, Ecologist, Phil Kuznetsov, Seva and Lev. — and from different aspects of his life: as an anarchist and anti-fascist, nature defender, hiking enthusiast, editor and author of books, urban partisan, pagan, researcher of the Russian North and Kurdistan. A few years ago Petrov was forced to leave Russia because of repressions, settled in Kiev and after February 24 he decided to defend Ukraine with arms in his hands. In April, he died during the defense of Bakhmut. “Mediazona” tells about the fate of the indefatigable activist, which in many ways echoes the twists and turns of Russia’s history of the last twenty years.
is a farewell letter of Dmitry Petrov, which he left to his comrades in case of his death at the front in Ukraine.
The letter was published«Anarcho-communist militant organization» (BOAK) is an association that promotes guerrilla actions inside Russia, gives advice on how to carry them out and has taken responsibility for some of the sabotage. BOAC says that Petrov was one of the founders of the organization and, moreover, started participating in radical protests as early as the late noughties, for example, he was one of the founders of the «Black Blog». This collective not only covered such actions, but also participated in them directly: at that time anarchists burned construction equipment and police cars, military committees and offices «United Russia».
Dmytro Petrov died in the battles for Bakhmut on April 19. His death was confirmed by his comrades-in-arms a week later. Petrov was 33 years old.
An anarchist and anti-fascist, historian and lover of the Russian North, environmental activist and street guerrilla fighter, researcher of Kurdistan, political emigrant and Russian who fought for the freedom of Ukraine, — friends and comrades-in-arms say that Dmitri Petrov’s life would have been enough for ten men.«Mediazone»tried to give a brief account of who he was and how he died.
Anarchist and anti-fascist. «We must build anarchism in our lifetime»
«Many people think anarchism is a utopian idea. Dima was just saying that if we are anarchists, we should actually build anarchism in our lifetime, — Dmitry’s longtime comrade Ivan, an anarchist who left Russia, recalled. — If we don’t strive to do that, there’s no point in doing it at all».
Dmitry joined the anarchist movement in the mid-noughties, just at the height of the street war with neo-Nazis — at a time when dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured every year at the hands of the far right, and their organizations were holding crowded«Russian marches». The state preferred to ignore them, and sometimes even patronized them, so in those years the ultra-right felt quite comfortable in Russia.
that’s how Ivan describes Dmitri in those years.
The young Petrov did not limit himself to clashes with the ultra-right. He quickly joined the protest movement, an important part of which at the time were local environmental protests: activists and local residents fought against the cutting down of another park or forest for the sake of development.
A pagan and an environmentalist. «The fascist’s “love” for — is nothing more than hypocrisy»
«He was involved in the defense of the same Bittsevo Park, densification, because in those years it actively began, he was involved in hostels in the noughties and tens, when people were kicked out of the hostels, and he was among those who opposed the chopovs», — recalls journalist Dmitry Okrest, a friend of Petrov’s who published his memories of the noughties in the book «Being a skinhead. The life of Socrates the anti-fascist».
The fight for the Bittsevsky forest, which the Moscow authorities have recently decided to improve despite possible damage to nature, is still going on today, and in the early tenth century activists opposed the construction of a new subway line there. At that time, ecologists also opposed the development of forests near Moscow, for example, put tents in Tsagovskoye or carried ekovahtsy in Butovskoye. In 2009, Dmitry in his Live Journal urged people to spike trees there with nails.
Antifascist Nikolai, who met Petrov back in 2004, recalls that at that time Petrov and the anarchists in his circle gave the impression of people who were quite radical, persistent and «very dogmatic». «Dima was a pegan-antifa., — He adds. — Paganism, antifa — that’s the agenda they were pushing. Apparently, this also correlates somehow with his nickname Ecologist. We crossed paths with him at the time on ecology-related actions».
His acquaintances notice that paganism was not some passing fad for him. Petrov himself called paganism a religion of freedom, the roots of which are «go back to those eras when neither states, castes nor any hierarchies existed», and said we need to revive pagan traditions in Russia and not let neo-Nazis «twist and distort the content of traditional culture».
«One often hears from the ultra-right that they share the traditional pagan love and reverence for Nature. But how are these people going to live in harmony with Nature, if their state ideas inevitably imply the necessity of competitive industrial development with other countries and the complete subordination of both human and natural “resources” to the interests of their State? — he wrote on the website “Paganism vs. Fascism.”. — “a love” of fascist to Nature — is nothing more than hypocrisy».
The most famous and mass confrontation of that time was the conflict over the Khimki forest, part of which began to be cut down for the construction of the Moscow toll highway — Petersburg.
The environmental activists were then confronted not only by police officers and chops, but also by far-right soccer fans hired to help them. The protests were responded to by attacks on opponents of logging, on the editor-in-chief of the newspaper «Civic Forum», For example, he was assassinated three times (in 2008 he was stabbed ten times). Editor-in-chief «Khimkinskaya Pravda» Mikhail Beketov, who spoke about threats from the mayor of Khimki, was beaten so severely that doctors amputated his leg and fingers. He lost his speech and died in 2013.
Against this background, the protesters also radicalized. On July 28, 2010, several hundred anarchists and anti-fascists marched to the Khimki administration building, fired traumatic weapons, threw stones and smoke bombs at it, and then fled, writing slogans in defense of the forest on its walls.
The law enforcers were unable to stop them, but rushed to detain the environmentalists on duty in the forest and initiate criminal proceedings. Yevgenia Chirikova, one of the leaders of the Khimki forest defenders, blamed the authorities’ policy for the radicalization of the movement.
Continued logging and a wave of repression against activists pushed some of them to more radical, but also more secretive, essentially guerrilla actions.
Street guerrilla. «We are fighting for the people against the state and its organs of oppression»
The anarchists from «Black Blog» did not stand aside and conducted guerrilla raids in defense of nature, for example, setting fire to bulldozers in the same Khimki forest, construction workers’ cabins in Bittsevskoye or a cottage in an elite village being built in the Dmitrovsky district of the Moscow region. Now the site has been removed, but a copy has been preserved in the web archive.
One of these guerrillas, as BOAC now claims, was precisely Dmitri Petrov: «Dima was at the base of the anarchist guerrilla movement at the end of the two thousandths. And has continued to be a partisan every day since then. “People’s Retribution”, the group “ForNurgaliyev!”, “Anti-Nashist Action” — all these groups did not do without his participation. And yes, of course, Dima was one of the founders of the famous “Black Blog” and an active participant in all its actions. Including the bombing of a traffic police post on the 22nd kilometer of the Moscow Ring Road».
«Information about his involvement with the Black Blog and BOAC came out after his death., — notes journalist Okrest. — He never mentioned it, I think, for conspiracy reasons.».
Notoriety «Black Blog» received thanks to the coverage of actions against law enforcers: Molotov cocktails set fire to police departments and police parking lots, prosecutor’s offices and military enlistment offices (which was way ahead of its time – after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, military enlistment offices went up in flames all over the country).
Partisans did not ignore the offices of United Russia or the offices of the pro-Kremlin Nashi movement. Collectives with clearly mocking names often took responsibility for such arson attacks: “ForNurgaliyev!”, “Autonomous Dentists of the City of Moscow”, “Bittsevsky Patrol ‘Green Roger'”, “Anti-Nashist Action” and many others.
«For propaganda of fascism» attacked the newspaper’s editorial office in December 2009 «Komsomolskaya Pravda» — it was pelted with stones and smoke bombs. In his blog Dmitry Ecolog explained the approval of the action by the fact that the newspaper’s correspondent Dmitry Steshin cooperates with the ultra-right, and other journalists of the publication «promote Nazism» (Steshin was indeed close to neo-Nazis from the BORN and helped the gang’s leader Nikita Tikhonov).
«He was such a man, quite radical in his approaches and words. Such a passionary man, — anti-fascist Nikolai remembers Dimitri.. — 15 years ago, there was no demand for that type, and in 2022. — please».
The most high-profile action of the “Black Blog” took place on the morning of June 7, 2011, when there was an explosion near a traffic police post at the 22nd kilometer of the Moscow Ring Road. One of its participants, if BOAC is to be believed, was Petrov. No one was injured, only the booth in the yard sustained minor damage. Anonymous anarchists claimed responsibility for the explosion, their message appeared just at the time of the explosion. «Black Blog».
«We chose the place and time so that there were no residential buildings nearby and no casual passers-by could be harmed. Moreover, the device itself was positioned in such a way that passing drivers would not be harmed, — the arsonists wrote. — So don’t believe it if someone says or writes that we are at war against society, against people — we fight for the people against the state and its organs of oppression.».
From the arsonists’ interview with Esquire magazine about how they blew up a traffic police post on the Moscow Ring Road (Dmitry Petrov was probably one of the interviewees)
DENIS: We’re coming down from the crossing over the Moscow Ring Road. It’s almost light already. Already some pensioner is walking his dog. <…> Of course, it’s complete madness — to go back to a bomb that didn’t work, and in the light, in full view of the whole neighborhood. But so much effort has been expended — it’s impossible to walk away with nothing.
We approach the post. Everything is just as we left it: a basin with coal and a cylinder stands between the fence and the booth. Alexei approaches the edge of the concrete ditch, lights a phosphorus match and throws it into the basin. Nothing happens. Has the gasoline burned out? Discouraged, we slowly walk back to the bridge. «Hey, you’ve definitely seen a match fall into a basin.?» — asking Alexei. «Yeah, I guess so.». — «But you can’t say for sure?» — «No, I’m not sure.».
One last try. Come back, I climb over the ditch, close to the fence, light a match, throw it directly into the basin and … a bluish flame spreads over the coal. It worked! Now we’re running, my heart is pounding — in case the explosion catches us in plain sight? But the joy of success drowns out the anxiety..
BORIS: It was starting to get light. I noticed a strange movement behind the booth. I looked closer and realized that it was the glow of fire on the trees. It’s burning!
but there was no explosion. The tape ran out a second time, and I turned it back on. Police cars started to pull up to the post.
And then there was an explosion.
Ethnographer and researcher of the Russian North. «Someone compared him to Kropotkin, an anarchist prince and scientist»
But Petrov did not live only by protests – he was also a scientist-anthropologist, he loved and studied the Russian North.
«Dima was not like quite a few of the anti-fascists of the noughties, — remarks Okrest. — Someone compared him to Kropotkin, the anarchist prince and scientist, because Dima was also doing quite well scientifically. He was originally an ethnographer, an anthropologist, studying the intangible culture of Russian peasants. And in general, he led a lot of educational courses, circles, and so on throughout the noughties, tens, and twenties».
After graduating from the Faculty of History of Moscow State University, Petrov became a candidate of historical sciences and worked as an employee of the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, traveling on ethnographic expeditions both in the Russian North and in the central regions of Russia. Many notes about the expeditions were left in his «LiveJournal» — they’re interspersed in there with appeals «stud» trees and participate in environmental rallies, reflections on paganism, posts about the struggle against Nazism and solidarity actions with repressed anarchists from Ukraine and Belarus.
For example, in December 2014, he writes about his trip to Uglich as follows: «There are three churches in the Uglich Kremlin <…> Somewhere here occurred the brutal murder of the young Tsarevich Dimitri, which became the starting point of the Time of Troubles. The canonized tsarevich today reminds of himself from the Uglich coat of arms. The western part of the Kremlin is virtually free of buildings — there’s a small grove and a pond. There is much less tourist and shopping buzz here. Here you can stop, get away from the noise, look at the Volga and… feel the spirit of ancient Uglich. Do not neglect this place if you find yourself in Uglich».
He did his dissertation on «sacred geography» villages in the east of the Arkhangelsk region.
«Dima knew the history of Russia and the history of his region very well. Once we were in Petrozavodsk together, and he spent hours there talking about the local petroglyphs, — says Alina Yakovleva. — He also knew a lot about different beliefs, including pagan beliefs, and being a pagan himself, I think he looked for some inspiration in it, because he saw it as a connection between nature and man».
Participant of protests in Russia and Ukraine. «He didn’t swim with the current, he participated in creating the current to the best of his ability»
A new round of protests began in Russia in December 2011, when people took to the streets against the rigged Duma elections. Petrov, of course, took an active part in them as well, his acquaintances recall.
The protests, which gathered tens of thousands of people, essentially came to an end on May 6, 2012, when, the day before Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a third presidential term, the March of Millions ended in clashes between police and demonstrators. The authorities responded with repression: the criminal “Bolotnaya case” and a sharp tightening of legislation on rallies.
Over the next year, the demonstrations almost disappeared. The last notable protests of that time were related to the sentencing of Alexei Navalny in the summer of 2013 (after which the court decision was immediately reviewed, and Navalny was even able to become a candidate for mayor of Moscow).
By the end of 2013, Maidan had erupted in Ukraine. The violent protests began because of Ukraine’s sudden withdrawal from the negotiations on association with the European Union, did not stop for several months, and eventually led to the flight from the country of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and a change of power. Dmytro Petrov could not stay away and traveled to Kyiv.
«I think he arrived before New Year’s Eve, and when, in fact, directly [on February 20, 2014] there was a shooting at Institutskaya, he was also there at that moment, on the Maidan», — says Dmitry Okrest.
Another of his acquaintances, Vladimir Platonenko, in his memoirs on the website «Autonomous operation» writes that Petrov “took part in setting up Ukrdom, delivering food to the positions and even in the battle of February 18,” and together with other activists attempted to create the “Ukrdom”. «The left hundred» on Maidan.
«He didn’t swim with the current, he participated in creating the current to the best of his ability and ability, — Platonenko writes. — This applied not only to what was happening in Ukraine. Both in environmental protests and actions, and in the fight against spot development, he tried to go beyond the private issue, to turn the fight against one of the manifestations of the system into a fight against the system itself».
In March 2014, Russia used the protests as a pretext to annex Crimea and began actively supporting armed separatists in the east of the country. This started the war in which the anarchist Petrov would die nine years later, when Russia would launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
An anthropologist in warring Kurdistan and «a great friend of the Kurds»
In the years after Maidan, anarchist and anthropologist Dmitry Petrov turned his attention to the study of Kurdistan. In the summer of 2012, at the height of the Syrian civil war, the Kurdish enclave of Rojava emerged in the north of the country — Kurdish detachments played a major role in the fight against the then gaining strength «Islamic State».
Petrov traveled to Rojava, which apparently attracted him both as a scholar and as an anarchist: it is a region where the political structure is based on the principles of self-government, anarchism, and gender equality.
«Rojava — is a libertarian project that has attracted much anarchist attention due to the war in Syria and the rise of authoritarianism in Turkey, — says Alina Yakovleva, who helped Petrov with the editing of compilations on Kurdistan. — When ISIL began to jihadize the region there, the Kurds were one of the most powerful forces resisting it. In fact, they were fighting three regimes: Assad in Syria, Erdogan in Turkey, and ISIS. They have been able to do this quite effectively while preserving democracy within the community».
According to her, Kurdistan interested Petrov not only from the point of view of armed struggle but also «primarily in terms of social lifestyle»: He studied the organization of schools, the education and health care systems, and tried to understand the role of women in the political life of Kurdistan. Yakovleva emphasizes that he did not seek to create a «picture perfect»and always talking about what he thought was wrong.
«On the one hand, he was very subtle, scrupulous. He was always looking for the original source, questioning everything that was written and said by anyone. That is, it was very important for him to check it in practice and to check it himself, — says Yakovleva. — On the other hand, he was the kind of idealistic man who lived by ideals and tried to realize them even at the micro-community level».
Petrov studied the Northern Kurdish dialect, traveling twice to Kurdistan itself — to the southern enclave in Iraq and Rojava in Syria, writing academic papers and editing books on the region. However, Petrov may have been driven by more than academic interest: in a post about his death, fellow BOAC members say he was «trained in Rojava and took part in the liberation struggle of the Kurdish people».
When he returned, he gave lectures on life in the region, wrote several articles, and edited anthologies «Flowers of the Desert: 10 Years of the Rojava Revolution» and «Life without a state: revolution in Kurdistan», founded a small research project Hevale.
«Dima was the only Kurdistan researcher from Russia who had actually traveled to Kurdistan and knew all the difficulties of the struggle», — the author of the channel, who lives in Rojava, writes about him. «Woman, life, freedom». She calls Petrov «a great friend of the Kurds».
«These are people who have dedicated their entire lives to the struggle and have achieved a lot. At the same time, they are devoid of any pathos and do not give the impression of people traumatized by the war, — Dmitry Petrov himself spoke about Kurdish revolutionaries, speaking at the presentation of the collection “Life without a State: Revolution in Kurdistan” (compiled by Petrov himself, Dmitry Okrest and Maxim Lebsky). — They radiated calmness, conviction and inner strength. I was also surprised by their well-readness: I was embarrassed to discover that the PKK guerrillas had read some Russian books, and I wasn’t».
Russian anarchist in Ukraine. «Zero tox, just a balanced stance and arguments»
Around 2018, Dmitry Petrov left Russia and moved to Ukraine. Friends say that the departure was forced — at the time, along with «the Networks case.» a new round of repression against anti-fascists and anarchists began. Dmitriy, as well as many other activists throughout the country, were then interested in the security services.
«In fact, he was very reluctant to leave Moscow, he stayed till the last minute, until the immediate threat appeared, — says Okrest. — And it was his active desire to return. He clearly did not want to feel like a victim, he disliked the term “political refugee” very much in relation to himself».
Ukrainian anarchist Alex recalls that Petrov soon organized a film club in Kiev, to which the «invited people from activist communities close to him.», participated in rallies in support of Kurdish revolutionaries. According to him, Dmitry «has always been very soft in communication», so Alex discovered another side of his life. — participation in BOAC and underground activism in Russia in the noughties and tens.
«All this audacity is even somehow hard to match the warm feeling he created with his personal communication, — says Alex. — Dima had been living in Ukraine for the last four years, but in his identity the word “anarchist” always stood next to “Russian”. We actually argued more than once about the language issue, about Russian imperialism and nationalist tendencies in Ukraine. But he was an interlocutor who knew how to listen. Zero tox, just a balanced position and arguments. Just left a very warm impression of Dima as a person. Who, as it turned out, had lived a dozen lives other than the one I was lucky enough to know».
That Petrov also cared about his national identity is also said by other acquaintances. This is not common among anarchists, notes his comrade Konstantin, but «there was no nationalism involved».
«He was a pagan, he was no stranger to religious ideas and motives. Well, apparently, since paganism — is something so traditionally Russian, Slavic, he chose it in his early years and adhered to it., — says Konstantin. — And he believed that there was a posthumous existence for him, that those who died in arms went to Valhalla, a certain good place».
Last fall, Konstantin, together with Dmitry Petrov, fought in the area of Svatovo and Kremenna — after Russia invaded Ukraine, an anarchist went to the front to fight against the Russian government with weapons in his hands.
Participant of «The militant organization of anarcho-communists». «It’s our brainchild, born out of a belief in organized struggle»
Petrov did not forget his experience as an urban partisan in Ukraine either. «Black Blog» announced its closure back in 2019 (by which time it hadn’t been updated for several years), but in its place, a Telegram channel emerged «Fighter Anarchist» with similarly themed.
In June of 2020, an anarchist group «Daredevils» claimed responsibility for the arson attack on the main investigative department of the National Police in Kiev, their statement appeared on the website of the «Fighter Anarchist». As the «Grats» wrote, this was not the first action by anarchists — They have previously claimed responsibility, for example, for setting fire to a Turkish operator’s tower in protest against the military operation in Rojava and for burning the excavator of a company cutting down trees in the Kiev region.
At the same time, protests in Belarus began, and Dmitri Petrov, according to his comrades, illegally crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border to participate in them. «I didn’t know about it, I think a great many people didn’t know about it for obvious reasons, — says Okrest. — Because he would have been extradited to Russia if he had been detained.».
Belarusian anarchists from the group «Pramen» they say that Dimitri at the time «пhe participated in dozens of marches, helped organize the anarchist bloc at demonstrations and even managed to throw noise grenades at the cops.».
«I can’t say that Dima was risky in the sense of some kind of courage, but he was a man who was ready, calculating the consequences, to move precisely in the direction chosen for himself, — ponders Okrest. — He was already active in the noughties, he continued to be active in the 2010s, and despite the general apathy of the generation to which he belonged, he continued to be active. And I see on social networks, a lot of people were shocked that he was still active, that he was at the front. Dima was so, very inclusive».
After the invasion of Ukraine based on the canal «Fighter Anarchist» emerged «Anarcho-communist militant organization» — one of the partisan associations whose members believe that sabotage and armed resistance in Russia will help stop the war..
BOAC members have repeatedly claimed responsibility for such guerrilla attacks, such as setting fire to a cell phone tower in the Belgorod village of Belomestnoye (to disrupt the «Police-military liaison»); Diversion of rails on a railway line leading to the Defense Ministry’s training and tactical center near Sergiev Posad; sabotage on a railway line leading to a military unit near Kirzhach..
«Encouraging everyone to join the rail war! — they wrote after the bombing near Kirzhach. — Every train that stops — it’s minus the shells and missiles that could fly into peaceful Ukrainian cities.».
BOAC says Dmitri Petrov was the originator of the organization. «I’am — a member of the Anarcho-Communist Militant Organization and will remain so after my death, — Petrov himself wrote in a letter composed in case of his death at the front. — BOAC — is our brainchild, born of our faith in organized struggle. We have managed to lead it across national borders. I have tried my best to contribute to the victory over the dictatorship and the social revolution. And I am proud of my comrades who have led and are leading the struggle in Russia and abroad».
Volunteer in the AFU. «I was driven out by the same beasts that are trying to enslave Ukraine today»
«Make any, even the smallest, contribution to stopping this war and the mad tyrant who organized it. Any, even the tiniest step in Russia is now worth its weight in gold. I feel and believe that many millions of my compatriots do not support the hell that is going on. Do not remain indifferent and indifferent while, with our inactive (un)consent, the Russian state is killing innocent people», — Petrov wrote on his Facebook at the beginning of the war.
After February 24, he began to publish there sketches, first about life in military Kiev, and then about his everyday life in combat. In October, having already found himself at the front, Dmytro posted a photo of things abandoned by the Russian military after fleeing from near Kharkov: «When I came across a mountain of unopened bottles of “Holy Spring” water, I felt homesick for my homeland, from which I had been expelled by the same creatures who are now trying to enslave and destroy Ukraine… Somewhere I saw tons of army dry rations, rolls of St. George’s ribbons and items of military uniform. In few working stores one can find goods from Russia or from other occupied territories. But such “greetings from home” leave only contradictory feelings».
Ukrainian anarchists began preparing for war even before February 24, recalls a member of an anti-totalitarian volunteer network «Solidarity collectives» and journalist Sergey Movchan. The activists decided that in case of a Russian attack, some of them would go into territorial defense, and some of them would create a volunteer movement to support the fighters. Dmytro Petrov was also present at the meeting where this idea was discussed — In Ukraine he was already known not as Ecologist, but as Leshy (and then, already from the front, he gave interviews under the pseudonym Ilya Leshy).
After the invasion began, Leshy found himself in the thero-defense of the Kiev region, where, together with other anarchists, he tried to create a «anti-authoritarian unit».
«He talked to the last about how we are not fighting against the peoples here, we are fighting against the regime here, — recalls Movchan. — And he didn’t like the hate speech directed at Russians per se. It’s one thing — soldiers, authorities, propagandists, but he said that we are fighting here, among other things, for the freedom of the Russian people. He was an internationalist to the last. And he was the person with whom I thought that after the war was over, we would participate in the political life of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus».
Dmitry did not get to the front immediately: for several months they waited for the soldiers of their unit to be sent to the combat zone, but it did not happen, and many began to search one by one how they could get to the front line.
«Dmitry was never, let’s say, an enthusiast of military affairs for the sake of military affairs,” says anarchist Alexei Makarov. — It was very important for him not just to take part in the defense of the Ukrainian people — it is, of course, such a humanitarian obligation, — ноfor him there has always been an important political component. Participation in the war was to serve the benefit of the anarchist movement in Ukraine and throughout the post-Soviet space. In his opinion, the anarchists were to become a recognizable force both in Ukraine and Russia».
Alexei Makarov himself is also a political emigrant, a former NBP activist. In 2006, the 17-year-old Makarov found himself under criminal investigation after being attacked by members of the pro-Kremlin movement «Local» He spent almost two years in a pre-trial detention center awaiting sentencing and was released shortly after the verdict was announced.
Makarov left for Ukraine, fearing a new criminal prosecution. There he immediately joined the fight against pro-Russian forces. In 2011, he was convicted already in Ukraine in the case of an attack on a pro-Kremlin TV channel in Odessa. After his release, Makarov was almost extradited to Russia, but thanks to the intervention of human rights activists, he was able to obtain asylum in Sweden.
In the summer of 2022, Makarov returned to Ukraine to defend it with weapons in his hands. Together with Dmitry Petrov, he ended up in one of the battalions of the 95th Independent Airborne Assault Brigade of the AFU; in August, they both went to the frontline.
«We were not citizens of Ukraine, so it was quite difficult to formalize us, we were taken as volunteers, that is, we did not receive salaries or any social guarantees, — Makarov explains. — At that time it was the Izyum direction, Donetsk Oblast. When [in September] the offensive began, we started moving towards Svatovo and Kremenna. From the second half of October, our unit actively participated in assault operations in the Svatovo direction. From the beginning of December to the end of February, there was fighting in principle almost every day».
He calls Dimitri «very easy to talk to», comradely and «a near-perfect human being» wartime. «Always ready to get up first, in some hut to heat the stove and at the same time not to say anything to anyone like: “Why are you sleeping, and I stoke the stove every day”, — Makarov laughs. — And he’s a very good organizer and knows how to inspire people, but also completely devoid of toxic masculinity and some authoritarianism».
Apparently, during the war Petrov also tried to implement some ideas from Kurdish revolutionaries. In an interview with DOXA, which he gave under the name Ilya Leshy, he said that in an anti-authoritarian platoon in the tera-defense they decided to carry out takmil — «Critique and self-critique session, during which command decisions and the training process were discussed». In branches, deputy commanders were elected, who could also pass on critical remarks to higher commanders. According to Dmytro, in the AFU unit in which he spent six months in combat, there was no «specialized democratic institutions», but the commander’s views were close to anarchism, so the morals there were quite democratic.
He confessed that at the front he missed his loved ones, the usual circle of communication and the opportunity to be alone, to distract himself from thoughts about the war or freely go wherever he wanted to go: «A year later, I can say that the war — is an extremely tiring endeavor. The last few months have been particularly exhausting: since December we have been intensely involved in the fighting and have been subjected to increased stress. But I am encouraged by the conviction in the rightness of our cause and by the example of the revolutionary organizations, whose partisans have been fighting for more than a year. — for decades».
Petrov avoided injuries in the battles, but, as Konstantin, who fought with him, recalls, once in the turmoil almost fell under his own retreating tank: «It was an assault operation, the group he was in was supposed to ride in on the armor. It didn’t work out well there, they got off the armor, and the tank started to retreat. And the driver navigates by instruments, so the infantry had to be very careful around the tank. He drove towards the soldiers, Dima didn’t manage to jump out, but there was a hole covered with fallen pine trees, he managed to jump into the hole, and, apparently, the logs protected him».
In early March, Dmitri Petrov and his fellow anarchists returned to Kiev. He stayed in the city for only a couple of weeks, although, as Konstantin recalls, they discussed among themselves that it was worth taking a vacation, everyone wanted to live quietly for at least a little while. But «new military project», in which Petrov became involved, seemed promising enough for him to fulfill his dream of an anarchist detachment.
«He was no stranger to some perfectly ordinary, human pleasures, a nice dinner with a glass of wine and all that. Not that he was a fanatic, no, not once, — notes Konstantin. — After his return, he did not immediately rush into any harsh conditions. But he considered the opportunity to create this anarchist unit very important — more important than any of his desires, any of his attachments to the mundane. And so he simply showed a great will by going to war again. He was fearless and in many ways a bit of a knight».
Death during the defense of Bakhmut
The new unit, in which Dmitriy Petrov found himself, was sent to the defense of Bakhmut.
On April 19, Leshy and two of his battle buddies — Irish anarchist Finbar Cafferkey and American Marine and left-wing activist Cooper Andrews — were killed near Bakhmut.
Finbar, a.k.a. Chia, which is the Kurdish word for «mountain», reminded me of Dmitri Petrov. In his home country, he participated in environmental protests and fought against the construction of an oil pipeline, and later went to Kurdistan and took part in the Rojava revolution, fought against the «Islamic State».
The bodies of Leshey and other victims could not be found for a long time — this position, according to Makarov, changed hands practically throughout April. But in May, the Ukrainian military «have finally thrown the Russians out of there», and is in the process of identifying the bodies that were found there..
«If the bodies are found, there will be a long period of identification, — Makarov explains. — Especially since a lot of time has passed. And since this area changed hands, there were a lot of dead people there — both the Ukrainian military and the Russian military».
Makarov is going to return to Ukraine in the near future: «In principle, I consider it my duty to continue Dima’s work, that is, to work for the organization of the anarchist movement and the unification of anarchists into a separate unit. This was our common goal, but there was a certain division of tasks, let’s say. But since Dima has died, I will definitely return».
«Anarchist movement — It is so specific, very fragmented. Dmytro wanted to unite it, he devoted all his time, all his activity to this,” a friend of Petrov’s named Andriy, who also fights for Ukraine, said about this idea. —You know, he’s like from the books about all the old revolutionaries who put everything into an idea. A man, so to speak, more of a modern man than a man of the present era».
A few days before Dmitriy’s death, they agreed to meet in Kramatorsk — both were in the Donbass at the time, but they were fighting in different units.. «I told him about the last unit that, like, it’s not a great idea, — recalls Andrei. — And Dmitry, sorry, replied with a quote from Timur Mutsuraev: “After all, it is clearly stated in the Koran that jihad is obligatory”».
Going to the front in Ukraine, Russian anarchist Dmitry Petrov — aka Ilya the Leshy, aka the Ecologist, aka Phil Kuznetsov, Seva and Lev. — left a letter for his comrades at BOAC to publish in the event of his death.
«My dear friends, comrades and family, I apologize to everyone I have hurt with my passing, — Petrov wrote. — I very much appreciate your warmth. However, I firmly believe that the struggle for justice, against oppression and injustice — is one of the most worthy meanings a man can fill his life with. And this struggle requires sacrifice, even to the point of total self-sacrifice».
He asked his loved ones «Continue the active struggle to achieve a free society based on equality and solidarity». «Risk, hardship and sacrifice along the way — our constant companions, — he admitted. — But rest assured — they are not in vain».
«For me, winning — is first and foremost an uprising in Russia, a military defeat of Putin’s army. According to my dream, this should lead to our long-suffering Russian society getting all riled up, standing on its toes and throwing off the crap we have been forced to carry for more than 20 years now», — said Petrov himself on the podcast «Public appeals».
At that moment he was already on the front line and was giving an interview wrapped in a trench coat under a tank.
«I sincerely hope so. It’s one of the most important reasons I’m here, — explained the anarchist. — To personally contribute to the defeat of this monster, which has now spilled out so horribly over the border of the Russian Federation and which, I hope, will break its teeth and break its backbone here».