Orgies with teenagers, domestic violence, murder of father‑in‑law. The story of Nikita Semyanov, Russian “hero of the special military operation”
Никита Сологуб
Orgies with teenagers, domestic violence, murder of father‑in‑law. The story of Nikita Semyanov, Russian “hero of the special military operation”
2 April 2024, 16:46

Nikita Semyanov (centre). Photo: social media

In early March, Ulyana, a former Novosibirsk resident now living abroad, accused her acquaintance Nikita Semyanov, who had recently returned from the war in Ukraine, of heinous crimes, calling him a “pedophile” and a “murderer.” Her Twitter thread, viewed by nearly 600 thousand users, detailed shocking allegations against Semyanov, including routine sexual abuse of minors, spousal abuse, and the murder of his father-in-law, whose body Nikita buried near his house. Adding to the gravity of the situation, instead of being locked up in prison, Semyanov is now treated as a war hero and often gives patriotic speeches at local schools. Through interviews with his victims, family members, and acquaintances, Mediazona sought to unravel the complexities of Semyanov’s life story and understand why allegations against him had gone unpunished for so long.

In January 2020, Novosibirsk’s court handed down an 8-year prison sentence to then 24-year-old Polina Semyanova for attempted drug trafficking. Alongside two friends, Semyanova was arrested just a week into her stint as a drug dealer.

Fast forward two years, Semyanova’s former husband, then 33-year-old Nikita Semyanov was imprisoned for the murder of her father, Alexander Makarenko. Nikita was sentenced to nine years compared to Polina’s eight.

Polina’s sentence was later reduced, and she was transferred to a correctional center, where conditions are comparatively more lenient, even allowing for weekends off.

In April 2023, Polina received a letter from one of her accomplices in a men’s colony, who mentioned rumors of Nikita being freed and joining the military.

A year later, in early March 2024, Polina’s mother sent her a link to a post in the pro-war social media group called “Heroes of Russia — Novosibirsk.” The post detailed a meeting between school students and soldiers, commemorating February 23. Nikita Semyanov was listed among the “honored guests” as a “volunteer fighter” and “participant of the memorable assault on Bakhmut.” A photograph accompanying the post depicted a bearded man in camouflage, smiling broadly alongside children lined up in a row. Polina’s grandmother also saw this picture, and felt unwell upon seeing her son’s killer portrayed in such a manner.

A few days later, a different pro-war social media group announced another meeting between Semyanov and children, this time with “cadets of patriotic clubs.”

Following this, Polina took to social media to write a post about her ex-husband, which garnered significant attention with 39 thousand views. In her post, she questioned the portrayal of Nikita as a hero, given his violent past: “This man has been breaking me since childhood. Does it turn out that if you kill one person — you’re a murderer, but if you kill a lot — you’re a hero all of a sudden?” Polina now refers to her post as “a cry for help.”

“Naturally, I felt uneasy, almost like I’m about to have a panic attack,” Polina recalls.

In response to Polina’s post, her friend Ulyana decided to speak out about Semyanov as well, whom she accuses of being both a pedophile and a murderer. Ulyana posted a thread detailing the sexual violence experienced by herself and Polina at the hands of Nikita. The thread resonated widely, reaching almost 600 thousand views, and attracted attention from media outlets such as Siberia.Realities and Kholod.

Mediazona conducted interviews with people involved in the story, including Polina, her mother, Ulyana, and other girls who had visited Nikita Semyanov’s house. Mediazona also spoke with Nikita himself, his father, his second wife, and her friend.

Nikita Semyanov. Photo: personal archive


Despite her parents’ financial difficulties, Polina attended the Novosibirsk Pushkin Pedagogical Lyceum, what her 48-year-old mother, Veronika Makarenko, describes as “a fairly elite educational institution.”

While Polina struggled academically, she harbored a passion for music. At the age of ten, she joined a guitar club at the lyceum, where she was taught by Nikita Semyanov, an 18-year-old recent lyceum graduate. Reflecting on this time, Veronika Makarenko expresses regret, stating, “The child wanted to learn guitar, so we paid for her to go to a guitar studio. We didn’t even think something bad could happen in a normal educational institution. He was a teacher so we trusted him.”

As Polina got older, her relationships with her parents became strained. Veronika recalls Polina’s withdrawal and describes her as a “closed, difficult child” by the age of 12.

Around this time Semyanov left the lyceum. Some students, including Polina, continued attending classes at his home. Interestingly, all of those students were girls. She visited the guitarist as well.

Describing Semyanov during that period, Veronika portrays him as a mentor for Polina who offered guidance during her daughter’s turbulent teenage years. Initially, she held him in high regard, considering him to be a wonderful person. She shares that, together with her husband, they would sometimes visit Semyanov’s house, adding that they never saw anything suspicious during those visits. 

Semyanov’s house, hidden behind green gates on a small plot, is rather unattractive—a structure more reminiscent of a barn than a home. The toilet is located outside, inside is just one large room. Polina, Ekaterina, Alisa, and Ulyana—who later started a Twitter thread about Semyanov—recall their visits to his home with a mix of disdain and discomfort, labeling it as “terrible” and “disgusting.”

According to the women, Semyanov’s home served as a gathering place for countless teenagers, offering shelter and a sense of belonging to those in need.

“Young people are always looking for a place to crash. Well, his house was exactly a place like that,” Polina says. She recalls a constant stream of kids coming in and out, estimating around twenty individuals present at times, crowding the small space.

Nikita Semyanov with a friend. Photo: personal archive

“Teenagers love to run away from home,” Alisa says. She acknowledges that she also relied on Semyanov’s house as a refuge from home. “I was very happy when a friend told me about this option that allowed me not to spend the night at my own house.”

Ulyana adds that girls often sought shelter: “They just came by and said: look, we got kicked out of the house, can we hang here? He took them in, and it all turned into an endless squat.”

Ekaterina, who met Semyanov at a younger age than Polina, believes there was a pattern in the type of teenagers he liked: “He seemed particularly drawn to young girls from poor backgrounds, who had no one to turn to.”


Semyanov always kept alcohol stocked, making sure it was always readily available at his parties. “There weren't any drugs there, but alcohol — yes, and plenty. He had a special bottle dubbed 'rocket fuel' where he would dump leftovers from other bottles.”

Four women Mediazona talked to all say that Semyanov’s adult friends would often bring teenage girls to his parties, which would often end in a drunken orgy. Semyanov didn’t seem to care much about the age of the girls.

“You can’t call it anything but orgies with minors,” Ulyana says. “He really invited someone over all the time, and this happened. He was never interested in women his age — his focus was on girls who didn't understand shit about life yet.”

Polina says she started having sex with Semyanov when she was 13 years old and Ekaterina — when she was 14.

“He was hitting on Polina from the very start. She'd already had a lot of difficult experiences in her life, so to speak, so she was flattered by all the attention from an adult man,” Ulyana remarked.

Ulyana mentions that there were about a dozen girls under 16 who had sexual encounters with Semyanov. According to Ekaterina, three friends her age admitted to her that they had slept with Semyanov. None of Mediazona’s sources would tell their parents what happened.

According to Ulyana, Semyanov attempted to seduce her on multiple occasions, but she declined each time. Even though Nikita reacted to her refusals calmly, she now believes that he redirected his frustration towards Polina, drawing her deeper and deeper into an abusive relationship. Alisa agrees, adding that Polina was deeply reliant on Semyanov “morally, emotionally, and financially,” making it difficult for her to remove herself from his influence.

Alisa, who once visited Semyanov’s house with her friend, recalled feeling suspicious when she noticed sex toys and bondage accessories on a chair. Semyanov, who hosted the party with another adult, Konstantin, also offered the children a drink right away.

“For a while there was nothing weird about the party, someone played the guitar, someone sang,” Alisa recalls. “But then all hell broke loose, Sodom and Gomorrah. He began to undress this girl, Polina, before having sex with her right in front of us, 13-year old kids. One of the kids joined after Semyanov invited him. My friend an I refused, even though he was very persuasive and understood how to manipulate teenagers very well: he basically dared us. And from his position as an adult, it seemed cool. He knew how to influence people and make them do what he wanted.”

Konstantin told Mediazona that he doesn’t remember anything of the sort, even though he came to Semyanov’s house on multiple occasions: “I used to drink a lot back then. And yeah, there were always girls around at his place. I didn’t ask about their age and don’t remember doing anything like that. The condition of his house wasn’t the best, so I just came there to drink and then left.”

Ekaterina recalls that Semyanov was planning to prostitute her and Polina to other men: “So it was about doing this for money, inducing to prostitution. Although I heard about this proposal from Polina, he was the one who initiated it, Semyanov was agitating her and other girls, troubled teenagers. Luckily, it never came to that.”

Nikita Semyanov at a lyceum. Photo: social media


At the age of 15, Polina moved in with Semyanov. At that time her parents already regarded him as a family friend. 

“They got along great, and my mother somehow calmly let me move in with him. For them, he was some kind of moral authority. And for me, as a 15-year-old teenager, it was very cool to get out of my parents’ house,” Polina remembers.

Reflecting on those days, Polina’s mother, Veronika Makarenko, claims that she simply accepted her daughter’s choice: “I came to visit them, and I’m an adult, I can see what’s what. It never occurred to me it could be some kind of creep-joint. Her coming of age was rough, and it seemed to me that was better than somewhere where she could go to jail for drugs or get killed.”

After quitting his job at the lyceum, Semyanov, following his father’s footsteps, transitioned into installing video surveillance systems. Nevertheless, the parties at his place didn’t stop, as the new job barely took any time.

Polina got pregnant at 16. In May 2014, she and Semyanov got married, and in July, their daughter was born. The parties got quieter, yet Semyanov’s drinking persisted, often fueling bouts of drunken aggression. After giving birth, the abuse escalated, with Semyanov beating Polina on a regular basis, eventually breaking her nose. Polina didn’t seek medical or legal help, driven by a mix of attachment and youthful naivety, at the same time being scared of her husband.

Ekaterina recalls seeing Polina twice at Semyanov’s house after the wedding with clear signs of physical abuse: “One time I noticed that she had a chipped tooth. Another time she had bruises on her hands, bruises on her chin. So he must have not allowed her to get medical help.”

Approximately six months after giving birth, Polina ran away to her friend. Nikita misled Polina’s parents into believing she left because she didn’t want to take care of the child.

After her escape, Polina turned to heavy drinking as a coping mechanism, hoping to numb her pain. “Every attempt to rebuild my life failed miserably,” she laments. Before long, she found herself in the company of people who used “euphoretics and psychedelics” and soon started hustling drugs.

Reflecting on her past, Polina believes that her mental health suffered greatly during her time with Semyanov. “When I started using, everything went downhill. A lot of people try different types of drugs, but only those who are always trying to run away from themselves become truly addicted,” she observes.

Despite the hardships, Polina sees her nine-year sentence as a “second chance.” She managed to overcome her addictions, pursued education, and plans to continue working. “It’s all for the better, and everything I’ve been through has ultimately made me who I am today,” she concludes.

Polina’s mother, Veronica, learned about her husband’s abuse towards her daughter only after Polina had already begun serving her sentence. “She started talking to me only two years ago, then it turned out that he used to beat her, but I didn’t know about it,” Veronica reflects, adding that Semyanov convinced her that Polina simply ran away. “He was very convincing, a very good, even exceptional psychologist.”

Second marriage

Nikita Semyanov’s parents stepped in to help raise his child after Polina left. Polina soon lost her parental rights.

Six months later, Semyanov started a new relationship with Zhanna, this time a woman his age, who had her own daughter, seven years older than Polina’s child.

“I met Nikita when he was abandoned with a six-month-old child in his arms, whose mother said that she did not want to raise the child, and left, and began doing drugs. He did not quite understand how to be with children then. It was very difficult for him,” Zhanna recalls.

She tried reaching out to Polina to involve her in raising her daughter, but allegedly, Polina refused until the girl would turn ten years old. Zhanna says she doesn’t believe in the stories told by Polina and the other girls regarding Semyanov’s past.

“I also had difficult relationships. Am I supposed to blame all my exes for my life troubles?! My life went one way, her life went another way. I never used drugs, and she did. I didn’t go to prison, and she did. This is on her, it's a story about her personality,” Zhanna says. 

In February 2016, Semyanov officially divorced Polina and soon after married Zhanna. The woman claims that she never noticed her husband’s interest toward underage girls.

“I never noticed anything obscene or inappropriate. Any parties we had during our marriage were absolutely normal, everyone was of legal age,” Zhanna states. “No bad actions toward children, He was raising his daughter, and treated her well. Fed her, clothed her, and behaved like a father.”

Regarding their divorce at the end of winter 2022, Zhanna refuses to discuss the reasons that had led to it or to answer whether Semyanov was ever abusive towards her. “What happened in our marriage is our business. Between me and him. The relationship ended. I didn’t want him to be my husband any more and filed for divorce, there’s nothing more to add,” she insists. 

Zhanna’s acquaintance Irina claims that there is more to this story. Irina describes Semyanov as a typical abuser who gets more and more violent with time. Irina recalls that Zhanna found child porn on Semyanov’s computer: “And he was like, well, you know, it’s old stuff... Basically, weaseled his way out of it, deleted everything.” But since then, Irina felt uneasy and tried to visit Semyanov and Zhanna, to check if their kids were okay.

At first, everything was quiet. But soon Semyanov started drinking again and beating his daughter and new wife. Irina claims she witnessed the violence on multiple occasions.

“He could hit [his daughter] or swear at her, including very bad words, the argument being she resembled her mother, Polina, that is,” Irina remembers. Sometimes Zhanna told her about Semyanov’s escapades. “She told me about horrible things, I don’t even have proper words to describe them. I totally understand what an abuser’s hook is, and I believes that at some point he just broke her down emotionally, just like his previous wife. I tried to pull her out, but did not succeed,” says Irina.

Nikita Semyanov (third on the right). Photo: social media


45-year-old Alexander Makarenko, Polina’s father, disappeared on April 10, 2021. 

Following her divorce from Alexander, Veronica attempted to keep in touch with her granddaughter, who remained in the custody of Semyanov. However, Semyanov was against Veronica visiting and the woman did not insist, putting the majority of the blame for the whole situation on Polina.

Alexander then took the initiative and began visiting his granddaughter, slowly becoming friends with Semyanov in the process. As their friendship grew, Alexander even sold a damaged car to Semyanov for next to nothing. They would meet at Alexander’s garage and work on repairing the car together.

The evening of Alexander’s disappearance, he told his family he was going to meet Semyanov at his garage to work on the heating system. When Alexander didn’t come home that night, his son, Polina’s younger brother, called Veronica: “Mom, dad went missing. I’m going to the garage, he should’ve returned by now.”

The garage was empty. The boy followed his father’s usual route, but didn’t meet anyone. That night, the family contacted the police and volunteers of the Lisa Alert group. Nikita Semyanov and Zhanna also participated in the search.

Despite being the last person known to have seen Makarenko, Semyanov remained composed throughout the search. He returned to the garage several times and shared his versions of events. For example, on the second day after the disappearance of his father-in-law he suggested that he could have been killed out of jealousy by the ex-husband of a woman with whom Makarenko had a relationship after his divorce.

The search was unsuccessful. Semyanov continued to live in the same “shrewd” house. Veronica Makarenko recalls that Nikita not only did not try to hide, but also led a “full, beautiful life” — she remembered how he posted a picture in VKontakte in a Viking costume at a gathering of role-playing enthusiasts.

On May 21, Nikita Semyanov was detained by a police special force unit. 

While Veronica couldn’t provide Mediazona with case documents, she recollected key details of the investigation. According to her, Semyanov denied any involvement in Alexander’s disappearance during initial interrogation. However, a subsequent six-hour polygraph examination indicated otherwise, with cell phone records emerging as crucial evidence.

During court proceedings, Semyanov maintained that he didn’t intend to kill his former father-in-law. He recounted a trivial dispute escalating into a physical altercation, where Semyanov claimed that he fell and lost consciousness. Upon regaining consciousness, Semyanov allegedly discovered Alexander motionless. Panicked, Semyanov allegedly placed a bag over Alexander’s head and tied a wire around his neck. Semyanov claimed that he had thought about going to the police but in the end decided to bring the body to his property and bury it there.

Veronika refuses to believe that Semyanov didn’t intend to kill her ex-husband: “The whole story of him getting scared is a load of crap. First of all, there’s this bag on the head and wire around the neck. Secondly, there was an episode in the case files about him driving by a store to get food with a corpse in the trunk—and only after that he went home. There, he buried the body in the foundation of a new building, that is, basically, in the garden. And after that, he was pretending to search with us. For that whole month, kids were running around his back yard.”

The Oktyabrsky District Court of Novosibirsk, considered the fact that Semyanov had two children as a mitigating factor. On May 11, 2022, Semyanov was sentenced to 9 years in prison, only a year more than what Polina received for her drug-related offense.

Nikita Semyanov at a lyceum. Photo: social media


It is unknown what Semyanov does now that he is free, save for his involvement in patriotic gatherings with schoolchildren at lyceums and libraries. His VKontakte profile picture shows him wearing camouflage, brandishing a Kalashnikov machine gun. He dismissed Mediazona’s request for comments regarding Polina’s post. “I don't concern myself with public opinion; let the relevant authorities handle the allegations against me,” he curtly responded.

Nikita Semyanov's VKontakte avatar

Semyanov’s mother, Valentina Semyanova, declined to talk to Mediazona, while his father, Vladimir Semyanov, threatened legal action against the journalist: “Oooh, fellas, you want to get some too? Did you hear about spreading fake news about the army, about the presidential decree?” The man promised to inform the prosecutor’s office about the title of our media and name of the correspondent.

Veronica Makarenko recounted receiving similar threats from Valentina Semyanova after Ulyana had published her story: “Shit was pouring all over the Internet! She was like: I’m gonna go to the prosecutor’s office, you’ll rot there, and your Polina is gonna have a hell of a life—she’ll go back to prison!”

As Polina approaches the possibility of parole in May 2025, she grapples with fears of potential retaliation from her ex-husband. However, she doesn’t intend to take her words back—“it’s too late.”

“I wish more people knew his face, so that he was no longer allowed into schools, and mothers did not let their daughters near him. I'm really scared, and even my relatives ask me not to walk around the city alone. But if he decides to take revenge, well, that means it will take another life for people to stop considering him a hero,” says Polina.

Ekaterina, who never told anyone about her sexual relations with Semyanov until this March, has very similar reasons for coming forward. “When I saw that he was freely walking around schools, I cried for a day; it was terribly painful for me. I would like everyone to know the truth about him. It has always been obvious to me that he was a sadist to begin with, and it’s scary to imagine what he turned into after spending time in prison and at war,” she warns.

According to Ekaterina, she once witnessed Semyanov grab a kitten, wipe the windshield of his car with it, and throw it onto the roof of the house.

Editor: Dmitry Tkachev

Translators: Andrey Obukhovich, Mika Golubovsky

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