The VOIN ("Fighter") centres will prepare young boys for service in the Armed Forces and war in Ukraine. Photo: VOIN at VK

Behind the new military training center for youth in Murmansk stand the Kremlin and Chechen strongmen

The VOIN ("Fighter") center says it will engage in patriotic education and combat training of teenage youngsters. It is established on an initiative from top Kremlin official Sergei Kirienko and developed in cooperation with Chechen hardliner Daniil Martynov.
October 03, 2023


The region of Murmansk has major importance for the Arctic and all of Russia, Director of VOIN (“Fighter”) Nikolai Yazynin explained as the opening of the regional center was announced in September this year.

“This is where the Northern Fleet is based. Under the northern light of the Arctic we will together with the regional government of Murmansk join forces in the education of a young generation of patriots,”  Yazynin underlined.

The center in Murmansk will be the 13th of its kind in Russia. It is due to open in early 2024.

Regional governor Andrei Chibis appears thrilled about the newcomers in town.

Governor Andrei Chibis is often seen with a large “Z” on his chest. Photo: the governor’s Telegram channel

“In the course of three months of training in the center, the youngsters will get skills useful not only in the Army, but also in civilian life, such as tactical medicine, engineering and tactical preparedness, communications and piloting of drones,” he says in a comment.

The center will first of all train teenage boys in the age 14-18 for service in the Armed Forces. Secondly, it will train reservist men aged 18-35 for combat in the so-called “special military operation.”

Behind the initiative stand powerful men in the Kremlin. It was reportedly Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergei Kirienko and Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev that proposed the establishment of the VOIN centers.


Sergei Kirienko speaks to a seminar organized by the Russian Union of Martial Arts. Photo:

Both Kirienko and Trutnev have close links to militaristic organisations promoting nationalist patriotism and military training. The former has for many years been the co-chairman of the Russian Union of Martial Arts.

In a recent address to Union representatives, the Kremlin top official explained that military education is an integrated part of today’s Russian society.

“The Russian Union of Martial Arts is one of the system elements created by the president, on which all current other mechanisms must be built,” he told regional Union representatives at a seminar.

“There is a war ongoing and every true patriot of the country must ask himself the question: what have I done to make victory come closer?” Kirienko said. “Contributions to the education of the young generation - this is an important contribution to victory and the future of our country,” he continued.

The VOIN centres is a part of the system outlined by Sergei Kirienko. It is developed in close cooperation with representatives of Chechen chieftain Ramzan Kadyrov.

Daniil Martynov (third from left) next to Yuri Trutnev. Photo: Russian Union of Martial Arts

Reportedly, it is Daniil Martynov that is in charge of the organisational development of the centres. And the process in done in close cooperation with his close associate and VOIN Director Nikolai Yazynin.

Daniil Martynov for many years served as aide and head of security for Ramzan Kadyrov. In 2015 he was instrumental in the establishment of the Spetsnaz University, a major military training facility in Chechnya.

The Chechen strongman has a strong position in the FSB. For years, he also climbed the career ladder in the National Guard (Rosgvardia) and he today holds the post as adviser on security for Minister of Emergency Situations (Emercom) Aleksandr Kurenkov.


Daniil Martynov has been a close associate of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for many years. He is today serving as adviser to Emercom minister Aleksandr Kurenkov


Martynov has also repeatedly been on expeditions in the Arctic, including in Murmansk, as well as Svalbard, Norway, where he in 2016 brought a Chechen special force that was on its way to the North Pole.

Many of the teachers and trainers at the VOIN centres have reportedly undergone training at the Spetsnaz University in Chechnya.

“The uniqueness of the VOIN Centres is the professional instructor team and the modern training programs,” the organisation writes on its website.

No wonder the VOIN center in Chechnya is among the most active in the organisation. The center is located in the premises of the Spetsnaz University.

In September, Russian Ombudswoman for Children Maria Lvova-Belova paid a visit to the center. In a video, she is seen testing weapons and praising the Chechen military training.


Children’s ombudswoman Maria Lvova-Belova tests weapons at the Spetsnaz University in Chechnya. Photo: screenshot of video at VK


According to the Center, Lvova-Belova during her stay highlighted the significance of giving children the possibility to study at the training center that prepares warriors for elite units. She reportedly also expressed gratitude to the trainers of the centre and to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for facilitating the training.

In addition to Chechnya, VOIN centres are established in the regions of Belgorod, Khabarovsk, Sverdlovsk, Buryatia, Tatarstan, Pskov, Kalmykia, Kemerovsk, Tyumen and Nenets-Yamal.

And soon also Murmansk.




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