Vladimir Putin says that his "military operation" in Ukraine is necessary to save the country from Nazism. It now appears that an oligarch with ties to Russia allegedly hired locals to paint swastikas in various places in the Ukrainian town of Kharkiv as part of a false flag operation to bolster the case for Russia's invasion.
Rolling Stone reports that multiple sources confirmed that the plot involved real estate, banking and oil magnate Pavel Fuks, who allegedly was co-opted by Russian security forces to participate. Through intermediaries, Fuks allegedly offered to pay between $500 and $1,500 for street-level criminals to vandalize city streets with pro-Nazi graffiti in December, January, and February - just as Putin was massing his military forces on the border with Ukraine.
The magazine writes that Oleg Plyush, a former top Ukrainian kickboxer who calls Fuks a friend, says he learned about the scheme from an intermediary who was involved with finding people to carry out the vandalism. According to Plyush’s account, when he was confronted about the scheme, Fuks claimed that “he had no choice” and that it was his “assignment” — mandatory if he wanted to stay in business in the region.
Fuks is Jewish and a major contributor to a holocaust memorial in Kyiv, Rolling Stone reports: "There’s no reason to believe he would pay for swastikas out of antisemitism. Instead, if confirmed, the plot suggests there was at least one deliberate attempt by the Russian security state to manufacture evidence to exaggerate the sway of Nazism in Ukraine. In the run-up to the invasion and after, Putin claimed Ukraine had fallen under Nazi control and that the invasion was necessary to liberate the country — a claim broadly dismissed internationally but that, with the help of state-run media, seems to have taken hold among many Russians."