Street actions involving teenagers and young people have been held in some cities of Ukraine. There are reports on social media that representatives of the Redan movement, which was founded in Russia, have appeared in Ukraine. Members of the group are currently being detained en masse in the Russian Federation.
In Kharkiv, teenagers were even detained by the police to prevent a mass fight. Law enforcement officers identified 245 participants in the mass event, calling it a flash mob launched by the Russian Federation.
Volodymyr Tymoshko, the chief of police in Kharkiv Oblast, said law enforcement officers are contacting parents of the children who took part in the flash mob. Police officers who work with young offenders will meet with them and have preventive discussions.
UP.Zhyttia has been finding out what kind of organisation the Redan movement is, what it does, what its ideology is, and how widespread it is in Ukraine.
What is known about Redan Group?
Information about the new movement quickly began to spread in the media and on social media following mass detentions of teenagers in shopping centres in large Russian cities.
In one of Moscow's shopping malls, 300 people were detained in a single evening.
The reason for the arrests were mass fights which, according to Russian media, were organised by representatives of a new youth subculture – the Redan "private military company".
The young people also refer to themselves as Spiders and wear clothes featuring a spider and the number 4. The teenagers consider themselves freaks and claim that they have nothing to do with military formations: they call themselves a "private military company" (by analogy with Prigozhin's infamous Wagner Group) "as a joke".
The emergence of the subculture is associated with the Japanese anime series Hunter x Hunter, in which there is a gangster group called Gen’ei Ryodan whose symbol is a spider and the number 4. Redan members may also wear checked trousers, and they favour black garments.
However, the teenagers do not consider themselves a criminal group. It has been claimed on social media that representatives of the community oppose "white football fans and natives of the Caucasus and migrants", but the Redans say they "do not oppress people because of their religion or nationality".
According to the Russian media, Redan is an organisation of representatives of the so-called anime subculture, although, unlike the self-absorbed and sometimes apathetic admirers of the genre, these young men and women can stand up for themselves.
|"Redans". Photo from social media
On social media, Redans are contrasted with so-called ‘offniks’ (football hooligans) – representatives of the opposite subculture, who advocate brute force.
Meanwhile, propagandist Russian media outlets are claiming that Redans are a "psychological operation by Ukraine, which is very happy to see fights in Russian shopping malls".
Background: Russian authorities have long been "battling" against Japanese comics (manga) and anime. Certain books and films have been banned by the courts, such as popular anime like Death Note and Tokyo Ghoul, which have been banned in Russia since 2021.
Redans in Ukraine
It is currently unknown whether there are many so-called Redans in Ukraine. They arrange their gatherings with the help of social media, where they call for revenge for every "freak".
Gatherings of teenagers, sometimes even involving fights, have already been noticed in Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and other places.
Teenagers who oppose the Redans also gather together and go along to disperse them.
"In Cherkasy, the Redan Group has not yet been spotted en masse, but local teenagers are already gathering to deal with them. They are also recording relevant videos. The Group itself has local social networks where teenagers gather," says local media outlet Uman-Info.
A gathering of teenagers has also been held in Ivano-Frankivsk. The oblast police told Ukrainska Pravda that no fights were reported. However, law enforcement officers have been doing educational work with some teenagers and are currently investigating the situation. There have also been reports of a fight between teenagers in Lviv which was broken up by the police.
Actions involving Redans have also taken place in Kharkiv. According to publicist and journalist Andrii Popov, representatives of the organisation were detained by the police near the shopping centre.
"At first it spread in the Russian Federation (where else could such a thing be invented - anime-like teenage gangs that consider themselves a private military company and attack other subcultures?)," says Popov. "In fact, this is an anime version of the skinheads of the 90s, who also went shopping and beat up anyone who was ‘different’. Since the Russian Federation has suppressed all traditional radical movements, especially the ‘ultras’ (mad football fans), aggressive young people are seeking thrills elsewhere, showing creativity and trying to imitate what they see in the news."
According to the police, law enforcement officers identified 245 participants in the mass event. The young people were detained and taken to police units so that all the circumstances could be established.
What most worries patriotic young people in Ukraine is the fact that the Redan movement is of Russian origin.
Some Ukrainian anime fans joke that they might be related to the Redan Group because of the symbols on their clothes and backpacks.
Blogger and Japanese language teacher Borys Moroz says that even the name of the group was invented in Russia.
"Correctly, according to the anime canon, it was Ryodan (旅団, ‘troupe’), but in Russian they often write the letter ё (yo) without the two dots [causing it to be pronounced "e" rather than "yo"], so the name ‘Redan’ appeared, which does not mean anything. The participants of Redan in the Russian Federation have created their own revolutionary ideology. At its heart is the idea that freaks who have been beaten up by ‘gopniks’ and ‘ultras’ (thugs) can gather in a group and beat people up themselves," he says.
|In Kharkiv, law enforcement officers identified 245 participants of the mass event
Moroz also explained why, in his opinion, children are imitating the Russian subculture, despite the full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation.
"The Ukrainian anime community has been focused solely on the war for a year. And then the Russian group Redan appears and offers an idea that helps you to immerse yourself in a romantic, pre-war life with showdowns between officers and non-combatants with an anime aesthetic. It’s clear what choice a 14-year-old from Ivano-Frankivsk or Poltava is going to make here."
|Detention of teenagers in Kharkiv. Photo: National Police
According to psychologist Kateryna Holzberg, the Redan movement in Ukraine is currently not too widespread or large.
"I asked several teenagers. None of them had even heard the name. There is no basis for the development of such a movement in Ukraine," says the psychologist.
Volodymyr Tymoshko, the chief of police in Kharkiv Oblast, appealed to parents:
"Be vigilant with your children, maintain constant communication with them, and help them understand what is happening, what is good and what is evil. The war isn’t just on the battlefield. The enemy wants to destroy our country and is using our children to achieve their bloodthirsty goals. Only together can we stop it."