Nina Kouprianova and Richard Spencer were married in August 2010 during a small ceremony in Niagara Falls.
Spencer's father is a doctor in the Dallas area. His mother, Sherry, is a celebrity and artist whose house is full of self-painted tiles on Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana. Kouprianova, artist and photographer, got along with Sherry, who had reduced one of her own mother's rings as an engagement ring. It is a beautiful big diamond in the middle of an Art Deco environment.
Kouprianova and Spencer planned a larger ceremony in Whitefish for December this year, where skiing and dog sledding were planned. The invitation was also in Art Deco style. It was designed by Kouprianova and shows a man and a woman on a ski slope, each with a different view.
Kouprianova remembers the disease before the Montana ceremonies. She'd had a stomach bug from Spencer's nephew. As she lay in bed in a room in the Whitefish house, she said Spencer came in and told her to go down to the basement and watch a movie with him ̵
She told him no. He shouted at her. Then, she says, he pulled her down the stairs with her hair and legs. She does not remember the pain, but the faces of the tiny angelic figures decorating his mother's house – Rococo angels with round cheeks, mouths open as if they were moaning, naked with pale glowing folds of skin, staring at seekers and plaintive eyes.
They had the ceremony. Kouprianova was hopeful. Maybe it would not happen again.
Now, after eight years as a business partner and confidant, ally and foe, Kouprianova divorces Spencer, America's second best-known racist. The fallout is a bitter tangle of fear and anger, with allegations of abuse and harassment. The affidavit, filed in divorce proceedings, contains a copy of an e-mail sent by Kouprianova to Spencer on January 4, 2011. She responds to an e-mail he sent. "Did you come back …" is the subject line. And in the body: "… sure?"
"Yes," she answered. "Apart from the bruises on my wrists and knees from yesterday's adventure along your staircase you sent me on, the return trip was not a possible serious incident. "
" Do you work tonight? he replied.
Spencer is often portrayed as white nationalism. Profiles of him in the last two years have gilded the racist and portrayed him as polite, respectable, intelligent and commanding. Journalists who have captured him tell me that he is smooth. He is polished. He has experience. He is polite. He wears suits and went to a private high school and Duke. Mother Jones coined the phrase " dapper white nationalist " to describe him. The Los Angeles Times remarked that he "looks like many young people on Capitol Hill."
Sure, he advocates an ideology of white supremacy and supports ethnic cleansing – but you know peacefully and in a lawsuit.
Despite the efforts of Spencer and the so-called ancient law to be respectable, violence seems to follow them everywhere. There was the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, a neo-Nazi supporter of Spencer who threatened to drive a reporter in Washington, DC, to a wood chipper in front of a Tony club on the Upper East Side – and now, supposedly violent home in Spencer.
Spencer is often portrayed as white nationalism. Profiles of him in the last two years have gilded the racist and portrayed him as polite, respectable, intelligent and in control.
When I finally talk to Spencer, in the minutes before he shouts at me, he insists he is a private person. He does not want to be there and talk to me. This is a private matter. He adds that Nine's policy is not so different from his. They were partners. Can not I leave it alone?
But the affidavit that Kouprianova filed for abuse is public. The judge refused to seal the divorce papers, citing the public's right to know. So, what can the public know from this mess of personal pain, tragedy and loss? Why would anyone be interested in someone like Spencer being accused of beating his wife?
You should take care of it because the abuse described and documented by Kouprianova would once again lead to the lie of the idea of non-violent white nationalism. Because it would once again show us that violence that saps good wine and disguises, is still violence. I do not know how many times we have to learn this. After all, there is no longer an American story to hold a man at face value, give him power, and only later to see all the horror he has produced.
Spencer denies ever mistreating his wife. He just admits he yelled at her and said terrible things – things he regrets.
"I'm getting frustrated," he says. "She makes me frustrated."
Kouprianova grew up in Moscow in the 1980s. As the eldest daughter of academics, she grew up to discuss ideas around the dining table. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world she knew broke up. Her family moved to Canada and she fell in love with heavy metal and traveled to festivals in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Baltimore.
It was a violent, sexist world. Once she went backstage to meet the members of a band she loved. They made sickening comments about her body and tried to grab her ass. She was 16. She saw bloody fighting between Antifa and Skinheads. She was with someone in the metal scene who was abusive. It was a world that was supposed to be violent and extreme. She was desensitized.
Kouprianova met Spencer on Facebook in 2009. They had a mutual friend – she does not remember who – when they were friends this was a simple gesture. They immediately felt connected and started exchanging messages.
Spencer lived in New York, where he worked for Taki's Magazine, the far-right magazine founded by Greek multi-millionaire Panagiotis "Taki" Theodoracopulos. Spencer wore Professor pullover and they talked about "Eugene Onegin", art and Soviet films. His Facebook page was filled with pictures of Ron Paul.
Kouprianova was impressed. She was a brilliant story. Student at the University of Toronto, who was teaching staff, wrote well, and had a passion for Japanese culture. Her dissertation was entitled "Revolution, Tradition and Modernity: Russian Consumer Advertising in the Time of NEP".
He asked her to write for him. She submitted blog posts about Russia and Canada and dealt with politics, Russian culture and Obamamania in Canada.
Spencer visited her in Toronto, and when she left in the fall of 2009, she went to Russia to research for her dissertation, he asked her to come back. He missed her. They were in love. Kouprianova returned and spent the holidays with Spencer's family. She was impressed by the seemingly perfect nuclear family. They were married on August 31, 2010.
"I did not understand the nuances of American politics," she says now. "I knew he was conservative, but …"
I know what she means. In 2005 I married a volunteer and in 2018 I divorced a Trump supporter.
The move was slow. How to cook a frog in the water. When the frog realizes what's happening, he holds a Tiki torch in his hand.
But maybe that's insincere. Maybe we were still young. Maybe we just fooled or fooled ourselves.
In an affidavit filed in June, Kouprianova claims that her eight-year marriage to Spencer was abused – emotionally, financially, and physically. In July 2014, when Kouprianova was four months pregnant, Spencer pushed her down and squeezed her neck and jaw. She has pictures of bruises.
In an email about the incident, he apologized and said he felt "terrible." There was also time when he pushed her into the oven when she was pregnant, she says. He would wake her up, yell at her and make her kill herself. She recorded hours screaming at her, some of whom she transcribed and included in the affidavit.
It may be difficult to understand why someone stays in such a violent relationship. Spencer – who in turn denies ever physically attacking his wife – has questions: if he was so violent, why did not Kouprianova call the police? Why did not she leave?
It's hard to tell if you've never been there. I can tell you the statistics on abuse, as most women have to make seven attempts before finally leaving their offender . I can tell you how abuse requires the slow collapse of the self.
"You are a disgusting cunt."
Over and over until you can not breathe, can not understand, can not see your way out. There's the isolation and the shame.
Kouprianova tried to reach her family, but she tried to tell them the extent of the incident. Her mother thought they had the same fights as any couple. The few friends Kouprianova had in Toronto did not like Spencer. Right after the wedding, she moved to a new country, a new place, surrounded by Spencer and his friends and family.
I can also tell you that rewired the brain and creates neural pathways that make the victims either hyper- or hypo-conscious. This means that they are either incredibly sensitive and nervous or desensitized. Kouprianova was desensitized. Spencer would threaten, intimidate, revile, and name ugly. She would answer with a monotone answer.
But one of the things that helps explain why she stayed is what's hardest about Kouprianova: she and Spencer were partners.
She wrote for the same publications as he – Taki Magazine and Radix Journal . She translated Aleksandr Dugin, the fascist Russian philosopher who had once called for the genocide of Ukrainians. In 2017, she challenged the idea of "peaceful separation" as an alternative to ethnic cleansing to achieve Spencer's "dream" of ethnicity for people of "European descent". She helped Spencer with technical work and graphic design. She answered interview questions for Spencer by e-mail.
"They make Richard Spencer better than Richard Spencer," he told her.
There is no American story left but to keep a man at face value, to give him power and only later to see all the horror he has worked out.
In 2016, she wrote a letter to a Montana newspaper that Flathead Beacon defends Spencer. She likened the city's reaction to Spencer to a witch hunt. She wrote about her grandfather, a Russian Orthodox priest who was arrested and shot by the Communists according to the family.
She vigorously defended Russian nationalism, Putin and Russia Today the government-funded English-language news agency. In 2010, after two women carried out suicide bombings on the Russian subway, Kouprianova blamed Europe's progressive politics in a blog post on a website called Alternative Right:
"Suicide bombers attack busy subway stations while Chechen children join refuse to learn the Russian language in Moscow public schools. In London, politicians flirt with Sharia law as this city continues to be ghettoised. In France, second-generation Muslim rioters inflicted 200 million euros worth of damage in one year. In Sweden, the number of rapes associated with migrants has quadrupled in the last twenty years. And in Fort Hood, Texas … "
Spencer acknowledges Kouprianova's contribution to his work but insists that he is his own person. "She did not make me who I am today, but she clearly supported my work, there is no question," he says. "I'm proud of our collaboration."
Kouprianova explains the opposition by saying that she was trying to repair her marriage. She was isolated with a small child. She insists that Richard Spencer is responsible for Richard Spencer.
This fall, I visited Kouprianova in her 800-square-foot Whitefish apartment, where she worked as a facility manager for Sherry Spencer until November. Surrounded by the gray shoulders of the Rockies, surrounded by Douglas firs, pines and alpine larches, the city is a beautiful trap. Kouprianova has no car; Spencer took it as he left. She receives only $ 550 a month for child support and no maintenance.
What she has left are two small children, a basset called Rody, the apartment and no way out.
Kouprianova checks the locks and jumps every time Rody growls. On walks with her children, she scans the face of each driver and makes sure it is not him.
Once Kouprianova was pregnant, she and Spencer went to town for coffee. The barista started screaming and refused to serve them. "I just stood there and saw her scream, my stomach is out here," she says, holding her hand one foot away from her stomach.
The barista was mad at Spencer, but such moments leave their mark. Kouprianova is ashamed. She has some friends, but does not open to many people. She is worried about her children. She wants her to have friends and life. She tries to assemble freelance work. But – she shrugs and points to the apartment, which is clean, but full of cloth baskets full of toys, bookshelves, stuffed animals on the couch. There is not room for everything. Most of the furniture, such as the side table with gold-lacquered scrollwork, comes from her mother-in-law.
In the apartment, at the small table dotted with little dinosaur figures and stuffed animals, she plays some of Spencer's audio recordings – until my hands shake and I bite my mouth, taste blood and try not to cry. Kouprianova sits quietly, her eyes are deep and dark and emotionless. She tells me about him when he pushed her into the oven when she was pregnant, and pulled her down the stairs by her arms. She plays me shots of him shouting at her as the kids sob in the background. You say he'll say "Fucking break [her] nose" that she should kill herself and jump off a bridge.
"Will your parents ever go to your funeral?" He taunts in a recording. I hear the high sound of cartoons playing in the background – the kids are right there. In a recording, he wakes her up at 1 in the morning to repeatedly ask her what her problem is.
"Let me sleep," she asks. "They wake the baby up."
"I would recommend that you assassinate yourself because you have nothing to offer the world," he says. "They are deeply disgusting."
In another video, he insults the 65-year-old babysitter who testified against Spencer at the hearing.
"Do you think you are not stupid and ugly?" He says. She tries to pick up her phone, but he takes it out of her hand. The baby is crying in his arms.
"[You are a] damn substandard man," he says.
In the background, a small, scared voice calls, "Daddy, stop." He does not stop
"Will your parents ever go to your funeral?" he mocks in a recording. I hear the high sound of cartoons playing in the background – the kids are right there.
In recent months, Spencer was only allowed to supervise with the children, but soon he is unattendedly visited the house of his mother. This worries Kouprianova, who is worried that her children are sitting in a house with guns.
HuffPost also received text messages from Spencer's current girlfriend Megan Bobonick, in which he also shouts from her. Bobonick confirms the sending of these texts, but denied that Spencer's behavior is increasing to levels of abuse.
In November 2018, Bobonick wrote a post on Medium, insisting that Kouprianova track her online and on her phone. In our interview, Spencer hinted that Kouprianova might have leaked nude photos of her online photos. When I asked Kouprianova after all this, she shrugged – without confirming, not denying. If something illegal was done – leaks, harassment – let the police get involved, this was their attitude. It's also Spencer's attitude. Even in breakup, it's easy to see how the two came together.
Kouprianova and I talk about her complicity and her relationship. She says she now denounces his ideology. But it was not until the visit came to an end that I wanted to ask for my complicity-the complicity of the media in making Spencer what he is to make it possible. If Kouprianova deserves to be involved in Spencer's actions because she made it possible, what do the media deserve? What I've earned
After a six-hour interview, I tell Kouprianova that I'm going to talk to Spencer. I say something about him, maybe he's shouting at me. Her jaw contracts. The color flows from her face.
"Do not try to make him angry," she says. "That `s not worth it."
She was always nervous when the dog growled. But for the first time I saw her scared.
Richard Spencer sits in the breakfast room of the Best Western in Whitefish with a mustard ball in his face. He eats a sandwich of panera – roast beef and gouda. He does not notice the mustard and I try not to stare at him. He talks about votes. He talks about the death of the right. I let him talk while he eats his sandwich. I do not care about that. I'm just here to find out what he has to say about the allegations in Kouprianova's affidavit.
But he speaks with his mouth full. He tells John Judis & # 39; The Emerging Democratic Majority . It's the weekend before the break and he tells me he's predicting a blue tide. He licks the mustard from his face. Take a bite Another globe mustard appears.
In just one hour he yells at me.
But before he finishes his sandwich, I tell him I want to know why he told his wife that he wanted to "damn his nose [her]".
"I did not break my nose," he says. "It's a tough conversation," the words said angrily. There is a red line between doing something. "
He tells me that I need to understand the context of their relationship. She would not listen to him. So yes, OK, there's no question that he said things he regrets. Things that are unfriendly and bad. He also does that with friends and family. It's just what it is.
And these shots Kouprianova made? Well, that makes the situation poisonous. Montana is a two-party consent state for recordings. Kouprianova is the one who does something illegal. The recordings are illegal. He would never record. Kouprianova, who takes him in screaming, is just a manipulative tactic.
Spencer absolutely denies the physical abuse. He mocks the idea of financial abuse. And he does not deny telling his wife to kill herself or threatens to break her nose. OK, what he said was unpleasant. But Kouprianova? Well, she is isolated from the community. She is an anti-American analyst. It is a Kremlin mouthpiece.
He reminds me that he is only there because he feels he has to be. He does not want to smear Kouprianova. If he was that bad, he argues, why did not she leave?
I ask him if he would have let her go. He says he would do it. But when I ask why he does not give his two children a passport so she can go to her parents in Canada, he says she is a "flight risk." But she insists why she did not leave.
I tell him about the cycles of abuse. The statistics about women who wanted to go seven times before they succeeded. In response he says he left. He came back. He is the victim here. He feels absolutely emotionally abused. He is a sensible person, he says.
But how does a sensible person call her wife and ask her to assassinate herself before her children?
He now leans over the table. His fine hair falls in his face. He asks me where I went to school and what my degree is and smiles when I tell him about creative writing from my MFA.
This is the cycle. I ask about the abuse. He tells me that there is a larger context. I ask what context justifies the words he does not deny. He insists that I am unreasonable. I ask again. He tells me that he is a victim. He left her five times. And where is the crime in what he did?
Under Montana's law, a person intentionally committing another person to commit suicide or commit such suicide does not commit such suicide, but commits the crime of supporting or requesting suicide.  He demands to pick up the plate.
When we resume the record, he apologizes for what he said during that time. "See, I'll take back everything you found insulting," he says. After all, he was just frustrated. I made him frustrated.
Need help? In the US, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline .