A group of Ukrainian far-right activists traveled to Hong Kong to check out violent anti-government protests. They claimed it was merely a tourist trip, and that they were not neo-Nazis. Facts tell otherwise.
The group of muscled and heavily-tattooed young men from Ukraine descended last week upon the streets of the autonomous Chinese territory, gripped by chaotic protests for months. The ‘tourists' were eager to see the sights - barricades and burning things - as well as watch the show, as in the clashes between protesters and police.
Then they shared their experience online, posting photos with local protesters and footage of the carnage. Here's a video from one of them - Serhii Filimonov, also known under nickname ‘Son of Perun' - dubbed "Hong Kong gave us a family welcome."
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At least some of the group had press cards, which allowed them to roam the streets freely. It remained unclear whether the documents were legitimate or not.
The self-styled tourists are members of a far-right activist group Gonor, known for holding actual master-classes on street protests and rioting. It calls itself a sport-social group comprised of football fans. Yet some of its members have taken part in the civil war in the east of Ukraine.
At least two of them - Filimonov and Igor Maliar - used to fight for the paramilitary Azov battalion, well-known for far-right views of its leadership and members. The tattoos of Ukrainian ‘tourists' speak for themselves - the men are literally covered in far-right, neo-Nazi and white-supremacist symbols they like to show off on photos.
They called them symbols of Slavic paganism in a comment to Free Hong Kong Center (FHKC), which describes itself as an "independent Ukrainian informational project."
According to the FHGC, it was just a trip of a "small group of young Ukrainian guys," who are not involved with any far-right movements, but just happen to hold views that are "close to be right (sic) and very pro-Ukrainian, but it does not mean something bad."
Even supporters of Hong Kong protests weren't convinced by the explanation, however, and warned their comrades against dealing with such connoisseurs of esoteric ancient symbols.