Simeon Boikov, better known as the “Aussie Cossack,” claims to be a patriotic Australian who is dedicated to upholding the country’s values and traditions. However, there is strong evidence that he is actually a Russian agent who is working to sow discord and division within Australian society, undermine democracy, and create distrust between the people and government.
In 2018, Boikov featured in Russian digital journal Vzglyad under the headline “Cossacks in Australia Speak of Supporting Russia in a ‘Hostile’ Country”:
“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. Even the FSB or a battalion of the Russian SAS can’t achieve that, because unlike them we are citizens of this state.” The group that Boikov leads claims to have about 150 members. Although the group is registered as “historical-cultural association,” its members appear to be militarised: they wear uniforms with epaulets and badges of rank, and carry out Cossack military drills. But according to Boikov, they see their main task as carrying out so-called people’s diplomacy… “We organise demonstrations in support of the return of Crimea [to Russia], in support of our army in Syria, in support of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.” The Ataman adds that while they cannot go into battle with sabres, Russian long rifles and Maxim machine guns, as their grandfathers did, they can prosecute another form of war — an information war.
Simeon Boikov has close connections with the Nationalist group The Golden Dawn Society and The Australia First Party ran by one of Australia’s most prominent white supremacists Jim Saleam. Boikov and Jim Saleam have a close relationship going back years, recent sighting include an anti-lockdown protest they held together earlier this year. Also frequently present with Boikov at protests and functions is Vladimir Simonian, the president of the Night Wolves Australia motorcycle club. For the past 7 years with the help of Simeon Boikov they have been establishing a presence in Australia. The Russian arm of the club has been described as a “proxy” for the Kremlin: willing to carry out or support military operations at arms-length from the Russian government. The Russian Night Wolves club president Alexander Zaldostanov is a celebrity in Russia due to his friendship with Vladimir Putin.
Boikov’s behaviour and rhetoric are designed to create distrust between Australian citizens and their government. He has been a vocal critic of the Australian government and has claimed that it is corrupt and controlled by a small elite. He has also spoken out in support of far-right and anti-immigrant groups, and has suggested that these groups are the only ones who can truly represent the interests of ordinary Australians.
He frequently posts videos on social media that are designed to go viral, using clickbait headlines and provocative content to attract attention. He also organizes rallies and protests, and has been accused of using these events to intimidate and harass those who disagree with him.
Boikov has developed a significant following in social media, particularly after the controversial Australian Covid lockdown measures. He leveraged the crisis to portray himself as a hero of the people, associating himself with any disenfranchised groups and purporting to further their cause.
He intentionally draws the attention of Australian police and films the interactions. As he is quite intelligent and excellent at public speaking, improvisation and off-the-cuff remarks, he tends to make police officers look foolish even when their actions are correct and lawfully justified. These interactions constitute a significant portion of his online content.
In 2021, even prior to his pandemic social media-related success, an Australian current affairs program investigated his relationship with Putin, where Boikov said the following during an interview:
“The purpose of the Cossacks in Australia is to preserve the Cossack traditions, cultures, values, and also to promote pro-Russian sentiment… we have no problems admitting that we are pro-Russian.”
If an agent like Boikov is operating so publicly and with such great effect in Australia, how many more are causing social and political strife among our Western democracies without being addressed?