7th August, 2022
On June 25, saboteurs struck a railway line 100km north-east of Moscow. They unscrewed bolts to detach the rails and then connected the broken rail with a cable to maintain the flow of power and prevent detection of the fault.
The saboteurs left the initials of their group on the track, the Combat Organisation of Anarcho-Communists (BOAK).
The crime was discovered shortly after but BOAK expressed satisfaction on their Telegram page that the supply of equipment to a nearby military base had been disrupted.
“Every stopped train means less shells and rockets to fly into peaceful Ukrainian cities,” they wrote. “We call on everyone to join the rail war!”
This was not BOAK’s only intervention.
The group had previously claimed responsibility for another sabotage of a railway used for military transport, and an arson attack on a mobile phone tower in Belgorod close to the Ukrainian border. Saboteurs published co-ordinates of attack locations and photos and video from the scenes. Other actions have not been publicised.
“Our objective is to contribute actively to the fight against Putin’s militarism and authoritarianism,” a spokesman for BOAK told i.
The group believes in solidarity with Ukrainians under fire, but as revolutionaries they also see a chance to weaken the regime.
“The war in Ukraine, unleashed by the Russian state, is a terrible tragedy,” the spokesman said. “But the war created opportunities for the revolutionary minority, through partisan actions, to deepen the crisis of the system.”
BOAK has existed for several years and began its disruptive actions at the start of the war. Members were inspired by saboteurs in Belarus, who conducted dozens of attacks on railway lines used to supply the Russian army and contributed to its failure to take Kyiv.
They also cite as influences Russian groups such as the New Revolutionary Alternative (NRA), which bombed a series of military buildings around the time of the Chechen wars of the late 90s.
The group is necessarily security conscious. Saboteurs who have been arrested since the outbreak of war are facing long prison sentences. BOAK operates and communicates largely through the dark web – a shadow internet that anonymises the user – and encrypted messaging. Saboteurs plan their actions carefully, evaluating targets based on their viability and potential impact.
They prepare toolkits, wear clothing that conceals their identity, and plot escape routes along dark roads without surveillance cameras. But no plan is without risk and activists say they are prepared to face jail and torture if they are caught.
The anarcho-communists believe the message is as important as the immediate disruption. “Our attacks cause direct damage to the repressive forces of the regime,” says the spokesman. “Maybe even more important is the symbolic effect and resonance…it shows everyone that the system is vulnerable and can be confronted.”
BOAK hopes to inspire others, which is why they document their raids and publish the photos. They share advice through their channels on subjects such as internet security, how to dismantle railways, and how to escape crime scenes.
This is part of the group’s effort to cultivate a coalition of saboteurs. Members are in dialogue with several like-minded movements, which the spokesman says span the spectrum from far-left to extreme right. The groups share information, fundraise for each other, and promote disruptive actions across the country – and beyond. BOAK has praised the work of Ukrainian underground forces in occupied cities killing collaborators with car bombs.
Sabotage has become a consistent headache for the Russian regime. In addition to the campaign in Belarus, an investigation by independent Russian outlet The Insider found 63 cases of freight trains being derailed between March and June 2022, a marked increase on the previous year, and concentrated in the west around the Ukrainian border. There have also been dozens of arson attacks on military recruitment offices.
BOAK documents and disseminates many sabotage cases and even ranks the best by criteria of damage caused, whether the perpetrator escaped, and the material released after the raid. Cases include molotov cocktail attacks on police stations, destroying the car of a regime propagandist, and burning down enlistment centres.
Ukraine has also dispatched saboteurs behind enemy lines. The “Shaman Battalion” recently revealed its involvement in a series of operations targeting military, communications, and oil infrastructure inside Russia.
Regular videos of explosions at Russian facilities have circulated on social media since the start of the war, with many cases unclear as to whether they were accidents or sabotage.
BOAK hopes that sabotage can undermine the war effort and hasten an end to the bloodshed. The group intends to expand their campaign. “We want to become a visible political force, spread our word, gain experience of struggle and strengthen our ranks,” said the spokesman. They are receiving many applications to join, he adds, which is only possible for vetted candidates.
But the anarcho-communists are also looking beyond the war to a revolutionary struggle for the future of the country. They anticipate a struggle against conservatives and liberals to replace the regime with a system based on their ideas of federalisation, public ownership of resources, prioritisation of the environment, and personal autonomy.
“We believe in our ideals and we will fight for them,” says the spokesman.
Reported by inews.co.uk