Aleksandr Fortuna, Executive Officer of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), is a Russian. He’s been living in Ukraine since 2017 and had never been involved in military affairs until February 24, 2022, when he enlisted as a volunteer. He says he took part in guerrilla operations in Irpin, and later he went on missions to Borodianka, Vorzel, and Rubezhivka.
The RVC didn’t exist back then. Together with Denis "WhiteRex" Nikitin, the leader of the RVC, Fortuna became one of the founders of the corps, which fights on Ukraine’s side and is comprised only of Russian volunteers.
In May 2023, RVC fighters together with the Freedom of Russia Legion invaded the Russian Belgorod region, where they captured a Russian infantry fighting vehicle and took prisoners. Earlier, they also invaded the Bryansk region.
Aleksandr told about the corps’s ideology, recruitment process, including among Russian POWs, the probability of a march for Moscow, and the difference between a Russian national and an ethnic Russian.
On complaints against the Freedom of Russia Legion, what’s wrong with the "Russian opposition," and what the RVC does in Ukraine besides the war: the full interview with Fortuna
The RVC’s plans for Russia: having its own state and dismantling the regime
You witnessed the creation of the RVC. Is the dismantling of today’s Russian regime still the main objective of the corps?
Denis Nikitin and I knew each other since the 2010s, but we really got to know each other in the early summer of 2022, when I learned about his ambitious project, which nobody believed in — a volunteer corps fighting for Ukraine and consisting of only Russians.
Our plans in the Russian territory haven’t changed, as we stand up and will stand up for the dismantling of the Kremlin regime, so that an opportunity arises to create, first, a civil society in its place, and then some kind of statehood that would meet our hopes and aspirations, as well as those of the Russian and global population.
WhiteRex repeatedly said that Russia might be reduced to the Moscow region, provided that it becomes a nation-state for the Russians. Is this the idea the RVC pursues?
This is one of the concepts, as we have several scenarios. Each of them has its own pros and cons, but at the end of the day, it will be up to those who live there.
There’s no doubt that history is always written by the victors, and the future, including statehood, will inevitably be decided by the one who puts an end to this whole story.
There’s one scenario where the empire breaks down and a great civil war starts there, which would lead to unpredictable results.
There’s another scenario where only the Moscow region becomes the Rus nation-state (the RVC insists on the distinction between the Russians as a nationality and the "Russkies" as an ethnicity, which will be explained below).
What’s wrong with the newly formed Siberia unit?
We have the Freedom of Russia legion, the RVC, and the newly formed Siberia unit. Why do new units appear instead of expanding the existing ones? Is it because of a lack of agreement, or what’s your problem?
In fact, there’s no problem. Speaking of expansion, we do expand. We’ve actually entered a phase of explosive growth, with an enormous number of people joining up. We are expanding in every direction.
The so-called Siberia battalion has been comprised, as announced, of Siberian residents, but this notion is very vague, unless we’re talking about the Tuvans, the Yakuts, and the Buryats.
Their primary political idea is that the nations and territories of Siberia must separate from Russia, be free, and live independently. It’s probably too early to draw conclusions about the number of their supporters since the Siberia battalion hasn’t taken part in any operations yet. It hasn’t been on the frontlines.
I’m rather skeptical about such media cases, and I’m not sure the battalion will make it to the battlefield, but it’s yet to be seen.
Two or three months ago, the strength of the RVC was estimated at a thousand or two. What are the numbers now?
Let’s say that whatever numbers were mentioned a month or three ago, the strength has increased by an order of magnitude today.
How the RVC recruits Wagner fighters and other volunteers among POWs
As far as I know, the RVC’s recruitment approach has changed. The leader of the RVC recently asked guys from the Third Assault Brigade at their online event whether they supported the recruitment of Wagner fighters and the like to the corps. All the assault brigade fighters endorsed the idea. Before that, the corps recruited primarily Russians from Russia, Ukraine, and other countries, but not service members from the Russian defense ministry. What made you change your approach?
I’m probably about to dispel countless myths, especially about Wagner, Storm-Z, etc. The RVC’s recruitment principle has, in fact, never changed.
We recruit volunteers, and only volunteers, who enroll for ideological reasons and are ready to fight against the Kremlin regime. The issues of these people’s sex, denomination, and political affiliation are of secondary importance.
From a bystander point of view, any prisoner of war is a person captured on the battlefield after being in a fight.
However, there’s a huge number of people who are POWs in name only. There are people who defected to Ukraine. That is, they surrendered, but they came as part of the I Want to Live program.
There are people who went to the frontlines with the intention of surrendering, and also to persuade other people who later defected to Ukraine to surrender.
We have one such man, Daniil Alfyorov, who is now on probation. There are also people from the Wagner PMC who have never taken part in hostilities in Ukraine's territory.
However, we reach out to POWs not because we are undermanned or lack volunteers. We have an enormous number of applications from people who didn’t serve in Russia’s defense ministry before.
Is it hundreds or thousands?
There are currently hundreds of applications. When we start checking if the person is really ready to come and take up arms, hundreds turn into dozens.
What are the ideas the majority of the RVC members are fighting for?
Do public representatives of the RVC, including you, share the same views as its leader? What are the main points of your national-traditional conservatism?
We stand up for:
- private entrepreneurship;
- market economy and unrestricted competition;
- preserving the national identity;
- individuality and self-identification;
- upholding social and cultural rights;
- striving for order, justice, and perfection.
We are against:
- freedom to degenerate.
We often talk about it, but there's no single political directive inside the RVC.
You mean there’s no ideological requirement for the RVC volunteers?
There’s a connection many fail to grasp: someone who shares right-wing beliefs is more likely to be able to act.
The reason is that the right-wing ideology is all about struggling. Struggling with external enemies and internal enemies as well as oneself and one’s own flaws. It’s about striving for perfection, justice, and order.
But when a person says they have never been interested in politics and neither will be, a question naturally arises: Why are you joining us? What for?
Is it feasible to reprise Prigozhin’s march on Moscow?
A representative of the Freedom of Russia Legion said in an interview with that Prigozhin’s mutiny showed them they could also afford a march on Moscow. How suicidal do you think it is? What would you need to gain a foothold, at least in the Belgorod region?
An operation can be of either symbolic or practical significance. And it’s preferable to always combine these two factors.
Speaking of a march on Moscow, this operation has to be not only symbolic but also practical. It’s quite complicated and requires a lot of time for preparation and huge resources.
Launching such an operation means going all-in. So far, the RVC isn’t certain that it will be successful; that’s why we don’t plan such operations.
Speaking about the Belgorod region, some other regions, or their parts, we need to understand that it’s not just some military campaign aimed at biting off a piece of land. You always have to think about what comes next. You need to hold it and supply it: there should be logistics, and there has to be a civilian administration, besides the military one, to ensure normal conditions for people to live.
When will Russian volunteers march for Moscow? The Freedom of Russia Legion tells (video)
"A civil war in Russia is inevitable"
Can Russia break apart after the war ends? Does the RVC consider the possible scenarios?
As for me, I believe that a civil war in Russia is inevitable, sooner or later. It will start when Russia suffers an immediate defeat on the battlefield or one of its most important cornerstones breaks down, for instance, if it loses Crimea.
The results of a civil war may facilitate the creation of a civil society in Russia. Or maybe it will no longer be Russia, which isn’t important. Without a civil society, no demand for change is possible.
But there’s also a counterweight: nobody in the world is interested in having Russia as a vast territory dominated by chaos, totally collapsed into anarchy, and uncontrollable.
For the Western pole, so to speak, however bad Russia may be, it’s still understandable and predictable, as well as its reactions to any actions of the global community, so that everything is more or less under control. This differs from a situation where several oligarchs rise to power at once in different territories.
If a civil war is inevitable, will the RVC necessarily take part in it? And is there any substantial number of people in Russia who would want to fight for themselves, for example, as members of the RVC or some other anti-Putin organization?
The nature of Russian society today is feudalism. There’s a supreme emperor and feudals dispersed throughout the country, mainly people from the so-called elites.
When we in the RVC talk about a civil war in Russia, we mean that it will be a war within the elites for resources, power, and people, merely a struggle to redistribute the market.
Of course, we plan to take part in it directly and in a big way. If I let myself dream a little, I would want to have some autonomy, which would be attractive for ethnic Russian citizens of the Russian Federation in the first place.
You said that Russia now resembles a feudal system. Does it mean you agree with claims like "Our boys aren’t guilty," or how do you explain it? Are the Russians guilty of allowing this regime to emerge?
The Russians are certainly guilty of the situation they are in. The degree of guilt is what varies. Some people have always been rooting for this regime and still do. Some are absolutely ideologically motivated to fight for Putin and "for the guys."
There are also people who just stayed silent and indifferent. And some just shrug and say, "We are little people; there’s nothing we can do." They are all certainly guilty of the situation they are in at the moment.
You and the supreme command of the RVC strive to build a nation-state in place of today’s Russia. But who do you consider to be a Russian or a "Russky"? Is it determined by blood, by nationality, or by the phenotype?
When we talk about the Russians today, we imply some image of a multicultural Soviet person. What was a Soviet person before is now a Russian, and there’s no difference at all, and the whole story is about melting all the nations that inhabit the Russian Federation into a uniform mass.
They say these are the Russians if it suits their purpose. And if it doesn’t, they say the person is Dagestani, for example.
We make a clear distinction between these things. There are Russians, and there are "Russkies". I know it’s the same word in Ukrainian. But it’s important for us because the word "Russky" means ethnicity for us, while "Russian" is a term belonging to the neo-Soviet multicultural community.
We have Yakutia, we have Dagestan, we have Chechnya, Tatarstan, and Bashkiria. All people there have a clear, self-determined identity, and they have their own autonomy, including cultural one, but the "Russkies" have none of this.
And in general, if a "Russky" wants to create something with the word "Russky" in Russia, like a "Russky" chess club or a "Russky" Pushkin society, whatever, it is automatically counted as extremism. However, if you’re a Yakut Pushkin society, you’re welcome.