Russia’s Ambassador to Australia is refusing to silence or evict an accused criminal hiding inside Sydney’s Russian Consulate for promoting divisive rallies against recognition of Indigenous people.

Simeon Boikov, 32, described as “Putin’s number one fan in Australia”, has been holed up in the fenced diplomatic compound in a wealthy Sydney suburb since January. He has previously indicated he is more powerful than a Russian “spetsnaz” battalion in impacting the “enemy state” of Australia and has proudly met with Igor Girkin, who is charged with downing MH17 where 38 Australians died.

In recent weeks, Boikov has been a key promoter of controversial rallies tomorrow in Australian cities and towns in opposition to the proposed Constitutional recognition of and the establishment of an advisory “Voice” for Australia’s first nations people.

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Boikov, who calls himself the “Aussie Cossack” on social media where he has some 230,000 far-right followers, is on the run from criminal allegations in the Australian State of New South Wales.

The self-proclaimed “Ataman” [Cossack military commander] of an Australian “stanitsa” [Cossack village] with about 150 descendants of Siberian Cossacks is wanted for allegedly assaulting a 76-year-old man at pro-Ukraine demonstration at Sydney’s Town Hall in December 2022. During an altercation, the older man fell backwards down a set of stairs and received a head injury.

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Sources told Kyiv Post that various brands of gasoline and diesel fuel with a total volume of 12.5 thousand cubic meters were stored there.

As a result, Boikov is currently charged by New South Wales (NSW) Police with assault occasioning bodily harm. When charged, Boikov had recently left jail and was on parole for breaching a court order. Boikov has also been the subject to two Apprehended Violence Orders made against him to protect his Russian-born wife.

According to the Australian Financial Review, the events being promoted by Boikov as “No to the Voice” rallies also “included references to a grab bag of causes, including opposing Australia’s [alliance with the US and the UK], 5G, abortion, NATO, mask mandates… and interest rate rises.

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“The Russian government is not encouraging anything of what you are talking about,” Dr Alex Pavlovsky, Russia’s Ambassador to Australia, said to AFR.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko said the consulate should evict Boikov, who is the son of a Russian Orthodox priest in Sydney and also associated with the Australian branch of pro-Putin motorcycle gang, the Night Wolves.

“It’s grotesque that the grounds of the Russian consulate in Sydney are being used to interfere in Australia’s important debates,” Myroshnychenko said on Twitter.

Asked by AFR whether the Russian government had a responsibility to rein in Boikov because he was living and operating effectively from Russian soil, Dr Pavlovsky defended Boikov’s long-term presence on social media and apparent right to freedom of expression.

 

“He is an Australian citizen. Wouldn’t it be interference in internal Australian debate just to prevent an Australian citizen to express his opinion on an important Australian issue?” Dr Pavlovsky said.

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Asked by AFR how long Russia would tolerate Boikov as a “house guest,” Dr Pavlovsky said “let me just limit myself by saying we are in touch with DFAT on that,” although he dismissed the idea Boikov would be made a Russian diplomat, so he could enjoy diplomatic immunity and be spirited away to Moscow.

An associate of Boikov’s, James Walters, 42, was found dead in May by Police in Sydney’s northern suburbs, some 10 days after he was reported missing. Walters was a regular at Boikov’s pro-Putin events.

Boikov has publicly admitted to travelling to Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine following 2015, fundraising for so-called “separatist” forces, and undertaking weapons training. Australia’s national broadcaster, ABC, has confirmed Boikov spent time with Russian battalions in eastern Ukraine, and met with Igor Girkin, the former Russian leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic.

Australian television has also exposed a range of questionable financial dealings on Boikov’s part, including potentially defrauding his own grandmother.

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In 2008, Boikov undertook training at the Russian Orthodox Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, which is reported to have close ties to the KGB’s successors, the FSB and the SVR.

The Monastery was run by Father Tikhon Shevkunov, now an archimandrite, who is sometimes called “Putin’s spiritual adviser” and who Boikov credits for his transformation and/or recruitment into pro-Russian service.

“We never felt ourselves to be Australian - we were aliens there,” Boikov said in 2020. “I consider myself to be a Russian. I consider myself a proponent of a strong Russian state.”

“We’ll always support the policies of the [Russian] state; we respect very much our Commander-in-Chief, Putin. And, we have a unique capacity to support Russia from within a hostile state [Australia]. Even the FSB or a battalion of the Russian SAS can’t achieve that, because unlike them we are citizens of this state,” he added.

In 2015, the Ukrainian Catholic Church in western Sydney was graffitied with swastikas and slogans offensive to Ukrainians. Boikov is known to have called the church’s rectory afterwards and said the following to this parishioner: “You know it wasn’t me.”

Mr Boikov has ruled out leaving the Russian consulate, saying he “did not want to give Police the opportunity to take him into custody”. Earlier this year, Boikov asked the Wagner mercenary group to capture Western fighters in Ukraine, so he could be swapped in a prisoner exchange. He has also suggested being traded for American journalist Evan Gershkovich who is being held by the Putin regime.

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According to AFR, the official No campaign has distanced itself from Boikov’s events as the pro-Voice advocacy group labelled the rallies an “affront to democracy”. 

“These ‘No’ rallies demonstrate how the No campaign benefits from division and disunity, with hostile and anti-Australian interests aligning themselves with No’s position and supporters,” co-chairs and Indigenous leaders Pat Anderson and Megan Davis said.

“It is not only divisive, but outright dangerous for leaders of the No campaign to turn a blind eye while Simeon Boikov ... exploits the Voice referendum for his own gain.” 

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who supports a No vote and has a strong pro-Ukraine position, said people should stay away from Boikov’s rallies.

“That’s madness and I’ve condemned that. Anybody who’s pro-Putin has significant issues, and they should seek help for those issues,” Dutton said.

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