Russian neo-Cossacks hold military parade near Luhansk

While today in Donetsk a rally of 1,500 individuals pining for the return of the Soviet Union was held to celebrate the 71st anniversary of “the liberation of the Donbas region from Nazi occupation,” a different kind of procession was held by swaths of neo-Cossacks in the occupied town of Perevalsk in the Luhansk region.

Here the crowds were dwarfed by the military parade put on by Don Cossacks and other Russian paramilitary types. In the video below a wide array of insurgents can be seen, ranging from obvious volunteer collaborators to obvious professional Russian soldiers.

Their flags bear the phrase “God is with Us,” – they number in the hundreds if not more.

Coinciding with Donetsk’s Soviet revivalist rally marking Nazi defeat, the timing of this similar celebration is ironic as the original Don Cossacks (along with other Russian Cossacks) acted as Nazi collaborators in the form of the 1st SS Cossack Cavalry Division. This alliance led to the forced repatriation of up to 50,000 Cossacks and their families to the Soviet Union for forced labor or execution. (Some may remember this fact as the plot point from the James Bond film Goldeneye).

The event was led by Russian neo-Cossack Nikolai Kozitsyn, a key figure behind acts of terrorism in the Ukraine who has also been implicated in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 and kidnapping of OSCE observers.

Kozitsyn at the rally
Kozitsyn at the rally

Kozitsyn ironically called for autonomy from Moscow in 1997 as a matter of “historical justice.”

The parade also included a significant amount of main battle tanks and artillery. Specifically, a number of T-72B tanks, a model only used in the Russian Federation, were seen.