Neo-Nazis from the Paragraph-88 gang arrested on suspicion of plotting assassination of Margarita Simonyan and Ksenia Sobchak

On July 15, 2023, the FSB reported that seven members of the neo-Nazi Paragraph-88 gang were detained in Moscow and the Ryazan region on suspicion of plotting the murder of Kremlin propagandist Margarita Simonyan and journalist Ksenia Sobchak according to the instructions received from the SBU. Among those arrested are 22-year-old Egor Saveliev, who was previously suspected of attempted murder, but served time for calls to extremist activities, and six young men born in 2005 and 2006, one of whom was previously charged with an assault on a musician. The FSB seized a Kalashnikov assault rifle with rounds of ammunition, rubber batons, knives, brass knuckles, handcuffs, and neo-Nazi insignia.

On July 15, a video was published in the official media with the confession of the arrested Mikhail Balashov, who said that he had created the group. Balashov also said that Ukraine’s special services "proposed a contract killing of Ksenia Sobchak and Margarita Simonyan," and before that they suggested railway sabotage. Balashov was detained by FSB officers when he arrived at the agreed place to pick up a Kalashnikov assault rifle and the money.

An administrator of the neo-Nazi Telegram channel associated with the NS/WP group, recognized in Russia as terrorist, wrote about the detentions as early as the early morning of July 14. Ultra-right Telegram channels deny any association between Paragraph-88 and the SBU.

The group itself announced on June 27 its disbanding and the transfer of its members to other neo-Nazi organizations due to the fact that one of the members violated the rules of conspiracy.

The group had a Telegram channel under the same name of paragraph88, where videos of the beatings of migrants and other "direct action" were posted. According to Balashov, Paragraph-88 members attacked people of "non-Slavic appearance". So far, it is over these attacks that a criminal case was initiated under the article on hooliganism motivated by national hatred.