Voenkory and Their Ideological Orientation
The most interesting of these channels are those of voenkory
), military correspondents or embedded journalists who report from the front. Voenkory
represented a prestigious professional category in Soviet times, and big nationalist names like Alexander Prokhanov have emerged from that field—indeed, Prokhanov has been nicknamed the “nightingale”
General Staff since the publication of his writings celebrating the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the early 1980s. The far-right writer Zakhar Prilepin
, said to be leading a military unit for the self-proclaimed secessionist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, has modernized the figure of the engaged writer, contributing to relaunching the war literature genre
that has occupied shelves in Russia’s bookstores since the 2014 Donbas conflict.
Several of the leading Telegram military channels belong to voenkory
: “Wargonzo” and “Operation Z—voenkory russkoi vesny” boast over 1 million and almost 900,000 subscribers, respectively. The “Wargonzo” channel (in existence since 2017) is administered by Semyon Pegov
, who is celebrated by Eduard Limonov and Zakhar Prilepin as the most courageous of the contemporary voenkory
. A former journalist for the Russian LifeNews TV channel who is now embedded with the Donetsk army, Pegov speaks to about 800,000 followers on YouTube and over one million on Telegram.
One should also mention Vladlen Tatarsky (a pen name for Maksim Fomin), correspondent for the Vostok Battalion, one of the main Russian militia groups in Donbas. He curates Reverse Side of the Medal
, the Telegram channel of the mercenary community likely linked to the Wagner Group. Tatarsky has been one of the most outspoken voenkory
, not hesitating to denounce the regime and the higher echelons of the military for their incompetence and to call
for the mobilization of 600,000 to 800,000 men to defeat Ukraine.
The name of one of the main channels, Operation Z—voenkory russkoi vesny, gives us a window into the ideology of many of the voenkory
. They refer to the 2014 Russian Spring, the nationalist movement calling for the creation of Novorossiya
(the names given to eastern and southern Ukraine in Russian historiography) but also hoping for a nationalist revolution in Moscow.