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27 Sep, 2023 15:24

‘Aussie Cossack’ gets Russian citizenship

Activist Simeon Boikov is a wanted man in his home country
‘Aussie Cossack’ gets Russian citizenship

Simeon Boikov, a Sydney-born activist and videoblogger dubbed the ‘Aussie Cossack’ in his country for his unabashedly pro-Moscow stance, has been granted Russian citizenship.

His name was listed in a decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, which granted Russian nationality to 41 foreign-born applicants. 

Boikov has been drawing the ire of Australian media for years, with critics blasting him as a “propagandist” who is abusing the country’s supposedly relaxed free speech.

In January, Ukrainian ambassador to Canberra Vasily Miroshnichenko accused Boikov of exposing him to “a major telephone harassment campaign” by sharing his private phone number in a YouTube video. The diplomat filed a complaint with the Australian federal police over the incident.

Miroshnichenko was campaigning to ban Russian athletes from the Australian Open tennis championship at the time, and Boikov invited his followers to share their opinions on that to the diplomat. 

Later in the same month, the New South Wales Police reported that an arrest warrant had been issued in Boikov’s name, after he failed to show up for a court appointment. The case involved a scuffle between him and a elderly man during a pro-Ukrainian rally at Sydney’s Town Hall in December last year.

He was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm after the incident, with his passport revoked on the eve of a planned flight to Moscow. Boikov took shelter at the Russian consulate in Sydney, claiming to be a victim of persecution and petitioning for Russian citizenship. An Australian magistrate convicted Boikov in absentia in February.