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20 Feb, 2024 22:09

Stepson of Ukraine’s top general says he wants Russian citizenship

Ivan Syrsky has taken part in a pro-Russian event in Australia
Stepson of Ukraine’s top general says he wants Russian citizenship

General Aleksandr Syrsky is the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, but his stepson Ivan has endorsed Russia. The younger Syrsky was filmed wearing a “Z” t-shirt on Tuesday at the Russian consulate in Sydney.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky appointed Syrsky earlier this month as the replacement for General Valery Zaluzhny, with whom he has had political disagreements. While Zaluzhny has enjoyed considerable popularity in the ranks, Syrsky is less liked – and less likely to be seen as a rival to Zelensky, according to several Ukrainian outlets.

“Glory to Russia,” Ivan declared, while wearing a cossack cap and a shirt with the letter Z – a symbol associated with the Russian side in the Ukraine conflict. He also urged Russia to better “filter” for “traitors,” in what has been interpreted as a dig at his stepfather.

The event was organized by Simeon ‘Aussie Cossack’ Boikov, a Sydney-born activist who recently received Russian citizenship, citing his persecution by the Australian authorities. He told Syrsky that the Cossacks will “protect him” from any pro-Ukrainian attacks. 

According to the Russian outlet KP, Ivan and his half-brother Anton came to Australia with their mother, who had divorced from the general. Anton is Syrsky's biological son, whereas Ivan was born from a previous marriage. 

Communication with the general stopped in 2014, when Syrsky chose to take part in the “anti-terrorist operation” launched by Kiev against the Donbass republics.

Boikov claimed that Ivan Syrsky has participated in many pro-Russian activities since 2014, and that he also wants to obtain Russian citizenship.

The video showed Boikov, Syrsky and the gathered ‘cossacks’ cheering Russia’s recent taking of Avdeevka, the heavily fortified Ukrainian stronghold from which Kiev’s forces had shelled the city of Donetsk for almost a decade. 

General Syrsky was born in present-day Russia and served in the Soviet military until 1991, when Ukraine declared independence. His brother, father and mother still live in Russia and have reportedly had little contact with him in recent years.