Marines from Russia's 'Kirkenes Brigade' praise pensioner who donated 500,000 rubles to new combat gear
Little is known about Marina Mikhailova Taranich, the woman that allegedly approached the Russian Armed Forces with a wish to donate 500,000 rubles (€5,180) to the war against Ukraine. In a carefully staged video by the so-called People’s Front, Taranich stands fully dressed in outdoor clothes, with a cap, coat and even a backpack. On a table next to her are three thermal cameras and a mobil meteorological unit, all of if reportedly acquired thanks to the donation.
With tears in her eyes, the woman expresses gratitude to Russian warriors, calling them “heroes and real men.”
“I just wanted to help with something,” she explains.
Video published on the VK page of the Russian People’s Front shows Marina Taranich receiving a diploma from the Northern Fleet for her war donation.
The military equipment will be applied by the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade in its fighting in Ukraine, People’s Front leader Maksim Sakhnevich explains.
“This is the kind of women that makes Russia strong,” he underlines.
Also the Russian Armed Forces pay tribute to pensioner from Murmansk. In an announcement published on its website, the military thanks Marina Taranich for the donation and says the equipment will be sent straight to marines fighting on the frontline.
A diploma signed by Deputy Head of the Northern Fleet’s coastal forces Sergei Fesenko reads that the support from Taranich “helps motivate soldiers to reach their set targets.”
The authenticity of Taranich and her story can be disputed. For a normal pensioner, 500 thousand rubles is an enormous sum. An average Russian monthly pension totals only about 18,000 rubles. The so-called People’s Front is interacting closely with Russian security services and is regularly engaging in various propaganda stunts.
There appears to be no available online information about Marina Mikhailova Taranich.
The surname Taranich, by the way, is most common in Ukraine. Judging from a Russian online name registry, most of the people that carry the surname reside in Nova Kakhovka, the occupied Ukrainian town internationally known for its dam and hydro power plant believed to have been blown up by Russian forces in early June 2023.
The 61st Naval Infantry Brigade has been actively involved in fighting in Ukraine since the start of the Russian full-scale onslaught. It is believed that troops from the brigade today are concentrated in occupied parts of the Ukrainian Kherson region, not far from Nova Kakhovka.
The brigade is part of Russia’s Northern Fleet and traditionally considered an elite force. It is based in Sputnik, the military town located only few kilometres from Norway and Russia. The full name of the unit is “the 61st Separate Kirkenes Naval Infantry Brigade honoured with the Red Banner.”
The reference to Kirkenes was given to the brigade following its participation in the Second World War. In October 1944, the brigade pushed Nazi German troops out of the Finnish Petsamo area and Norway’s East Finnmark. They remained in the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes before they retreated in September 1945.
Marines from the brigade were brought to the Black Sea by three Northern Fleet landing vessels immediately prior to the full-scale attack. One of those vessels, the Olenegorsky Gornyak, has since then been wrecked following a Ukrainian missile attack.
It is not clear how many men from the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade that have been killed in Ukraine. But the number is likely to be in the hundreds.
The neighbouring 200th Motorised Infantry Brigade in Pechenga is alone believed to have lost more than 2,000 men. In early 2023, a report from the Norwegian military intelligence estimated that only 20% of the brigade’s capacities remained intact, thus indicating that more than 1,500 men had been killed.