Deputy Head Commander of the Northern Fleet Ivan Kovgan was killed in Nagorno-Karabakh. Photo: Russian Armed Forces

Deputy Commander of Russia's Northern Fleet submarine forces is killed in Nagorno-Karabakh

Ivan Kovgan was in charge of political propaganda in the Northern Fleet and lived in the submarine base of Gadzhievo. Why was he in the disputed Caucasian region, locals from the Kola Peninsula ask.
September 22, 2023


Kovgan was only days away from completing his assignment in the disputed territories between Armenia and Azerbaijan when his car came under attack. He and four more Russian servicemen were killed.

A photo reportedly taken on the site of the attack shows a Russian military SUV type UAZ Patriot that has crashed into a rocky hillside. At least four bodies can be seen in and around the vehicle.

The lethal attack came from Azerbaijani forces and took place on the 20th of September as part of a major onslaught on Armenia-backed forces in the region. It is reported to have taken place near the settlement of Canyataq in the northeastern corner of the self-proclaimed republic.


Ivan Kovgan served two months as deputy head of the Russian so-called peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh before he was killed by Azerbaijani forces. Photo: Women’s Council of Northern Fleet


Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev in a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin the following day apologised for the killings and assured that an investigation will be initiated and the guilty troops punished.

But for many locals in Gadzhievo it appear a mystery that a top officer from the Northern Fleet’s submarine forces was on duty in the far-away Nagorno-Karabakh.


“Who sent this first rang captain to that place???” a man writes in a comment on a local social media in Gadzhievo.

“This was a man that belongs to the fleet, and even though he was a political officer, what did he do down there??? After all, he was our naval political officer with both body and mind!” he underlines.

Ivan Kovgan had reportedly been two months in Nagorno-Karabakh when he was killed. He was serving as Deputy Commander of the so-called peacekeeping forces that have been deployed in the area since the second Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020. Back home in the Kola Peninsula he was Deputy Commander of the Northern Fleet’s submarine forces with responsibility for military-political operations.


Ivan Kovgan addresses conscripts ahead of the presidential election in 2018. Photo: Russian Armed Forces


In a number of Northern Fleet’s social media reports, Kovgan is seen engaging with representatives of Yunarmiya, the military youth organisation, cultural groups, sport clubs and the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Diocese of Northern Fleet headquarter city Severomorsk a day after the attack issued condolences with the relatives of the killed officer. Leader of the diocese, Bishop Tarasii, has over the past years cooperated closely with the high-ranking military man.

The Russian Armed Forces are today putting major emphasis on political ideology and patriotism in their ranks, and Ivan Kovgan was an important mouthpiece in the Kola Peninsula.

Also Kovgan’s wife Jelena has been actively involved in propagating patriotism. Jelena Kovgan, who on social media operates under the name Jelena Vityazaeva, serves as leader of the so-called Women’s Council of the Northern Fleet’s submarine forces.


Elena Kovgan (far left) is leader of the Women’s Council in the Northern Fleet submarine forces. Together with other high-profile women in the Kola Peninsula she is active in a number of patriotic events. Photo: Women’s Council of the Northern Fleet’s submarine forces


On the Council’s social media page, Ms Kovgan is seen organising a number of patriotic events, many times together with wives of other distinguished men in the region. Among them is Yevgeniya Chibis, the wife of Murmansk Governor Andrei Chibis.

No wonder Governor Chibis himself publicly offers his condolences to the family of Ivan Kovgan.




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