With picture of Christ on his chest, Governor Vladimir Uiba proudly hands over an armoured "bread loaf" to Komi troops fighting in Ukraine
Vladimir Uiba looked proud as he on the 14th of May addressed his regional countrymen in a video from occupied parts of eastern Ukraine.
“Today, I have visited our guys on the frontline,” he explained.
The governor stood in front of a reconstructed version of an UAZ 3303, also called the ‘Bukhanka’ (bread loaf). The off-road van had gotten armoured plates on its front, sides and rear and was now reportedly capable of protecting passengers against enemy gun shots.
According to Uiba, the vehicle was originally awarded by a subsidiary of Gazprom and subsequently reconstructed at a local mechanical plant in Syktyvkar, the Komi capital. The project was initiated after local warrior complained about soldiers’ lack of armed protection on the frontline.
“I have met a big number of the Komi guys who are here and they all send their regards back home,” the governor said in the video address.
“They are all in a good mood,” he added.
The war appears to have created a major demand for the Bukhanka. Normally, there is a big number of the vehicles for sale at online marketplace Avito. Now, however, there are almost only pickup versions of the van available for sale.
Vladimir Uiba appeared on the video with an emblem of Christ on his uniform. It is not the first time that the controversial regional leader carries the religious insignia. On several occasions in his Komi Republic, he has presented himself as a man of divine protection, including when he on May 6th met a group of kids doing motorsports.
Since Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine in February 2022, Uiba has made several trips to occupied parts of Ukraine. His region is also engaged in so-called reconstruction works in Rovenki, an occupied town in the Luhansk region.
Vladimir Uiba is a medical doctor by profession. He is known for his active use of nationalistic and military symbols. For months he travelled around his region with a uniformed marked with a “Z,” the Nazi-inspired symbol of Russia’s so-called “special military operation.” Later, he started using the logo of the Wagner Group.
During a trip to the war zone in late March this year, Uiba presented himself as a Wagner associate when meeting warriors from his Komi Republic. He also carried the insignia of the extreme group when he met with village people in the occupied area, including Andrei, a young boy who on a video appeared clearly traumatised by war and the Russian aggression.