From Right to Left: How a Former Neo-Nazi Fell for an Anarchist
20 December, 2018

Imagine: your room is decorated with fascist flags, swastikas. You initiate destructive attacks on your ideological opponents’ art exhibitions. You head-butt a general, breaking his nose, at a civic meeting. You make public statements against homosexuals and promote conservative values. People know you for getting involved in conflicts and fights.

That was before.

Now your friends include a gay man with whom you fought for Ukraine in the Donbas, and LGBT rights activists invite you to their demonstrations. Your beloved is a feminist.

This is not the script of a romantic Hollywood film, but what actually happened to Dmytro Riznychenko.

He was one of the best known members of the ultraright organization C14. He took part in the Euromaidan protests, particularly in the area of self-defense. When war broke out in eastern Ukraine, he volunteered to fight on the front lines until he was wounded.

Riznychenko has been dating former anarchist Tatyana Pavlenko for nearly two years. They met when both were feeling disenchanted with their respective movements. Now they’re supporting one another as each puts themselves back together.

Today Riznychenko’s room is also draped with the flags of various Leftist movements, and his former friends from C14 visit his building to harass him.

“I still consider myself a nationalist, but a Nazi, part of that subculture? Definitely not anymore,” he says.

What forces or events can lead a person to change his worldview so dramatically? Hromadske spent some time with Riznychenko and Pavlenko to find out.