Following up on yesterday’s “Russian MMA is cool, the fascist undertones not so much” post, let’s take a look at the tattoos of one of Russia’s most famous fighters – Fedor Emelianenko’s little brother Aleks. The biggest and best of these is the giant grim reaper holding a baby on his back, which I like to imagine means he has a soft spot for children. Regardless, it’s 1000% pure badass. Check out them wicked scary bats!

Some of the other smaller ones are troubling though. Fighters Only takes a look and tries to assess the racism on a scale of 1 to 10 Hitlers:

Aleks also has stars on his knees, which have aroused controversy because they have swastikas in the centre. “Gott mit uns” was a phrase found on the accessories – particularly belt buckles – of German soldiers sent to fight in Russia during the Second World War. This has prompted rumours that he has Nazi affiliations, but Russian criminals generally do not use these symbols for political reasons. If one understands the history of the Russian crime world a different meaning becomes apparent.

The Vor v Zakone stem from a time when millions of criminals were put in prison camps operated by the Communist regime. They hated the camps and the regime and considered them mortal enemies. Meanwhile, the Nazis had invaded Russian and were locked in a bitter conflict with the Communist forces. So, in keeping with the theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the inmates began to use Nazi symbolism.

That said, Aleks’ association with the Russian Slavic Union (RSU) makes his tattoos a little more ambiguous.

RSU’s slogans are “Russian Power” and “Russia for the Russians”. Members have a habit of throwing Nazi salutes whenever there is a camera nearby – and their symbol is a stylised swastika. Aleks has appeared in a few friendly photos, and his name has appeared on lists of past and present members, but as he has never been seen wearing any of the group’s outfits or t-shirts, the measure of his involvement is not well established.

So we’re stuck in another situation where sure, there’s a lot of worrying signs that point towards this guy possibly being a fascist, but who knows maybe not. While I can certainly buy the Russian prison population’s adoption of the swastika as an anti-communist thing, I doubt people are still getting them today without embracing the obvious Nazi double entendre. Maybe shopkeepers in India can pretend they never heard of that Hitler guy their store is named after, but in Russia?