Leaders of the Edelweiss organization include Roman Kostyshyn, Yaroslav Ivanchenko, Kostyantyn Zamrii. It is registered as an organization in Vinnytsia, a city in central Ukraine, but has announced that branches will be opened throughout Ukraine. Edelweiss engages in violent opposition to pro-LGBT events and its rhetoric hints at a neo-Nazi ideology.
NGO Edelweiss-Vinnytsia was registered in 2020, but the organization itself states that it has been operating since 2018.
On February 1, 2020, members of the organization disrupted a closed training session for journalists in Vinnytsia on issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.“У Вінниці чоловіки в масках зірвали тренінг з питань сексуальної орієнтації та ґендерної ідентичності” [Masked men disrupted a training on sexual orientation and gender identity issues in Vinnytsia], Zmina, February 1, 2020, https://zmina.info/news/u-vinnyczi-choloviky-v-maskah-zirvaly-trening-z-pytan-seksualnoyi-oriyentacziyi-ta-gendernoyi-identychnosti. The attackers doused one of the trainers with oil and sprinkled feathers on them. On April 9, 2020, the premises of the head of Edelweiss Roman Kostyshyn were searched in connection with this incident.Andrii Kachor, “У будинку лідера “Едельвейсу” відбувся обшук у справі про зрив тренінгу на ЛГБТ-тематику. ВІДЕО” [The house of the leader of "Edelweiss" was searched in the case of disruption of a training on LGBT issues. VIDEO], Vеzha, April 9, 2020, https://vezha.ua/u-budynku-lidera-edelvejsu-vidbuvsya-obshuk-u-spravi-pro-zryv-treningu-na-lgbt-tematyku-video. In July 2020, Kostyshyn was put under suspicion under Part 2 of Article 296 of the Criminal Code (Acts of Hooliganism Committed by a Group of Persons).“Очільнику організації “Едельвейс”, яка зірвала тренінг з питань ЛГБТ у Вінниці, вручили підозру” [The head of the "Edelweiss" organization which disrupted the training on LGBT issues in Vinnitsa is put under suspicion], Zmina, July 29, 2020, https://zmina.info/news/ochilnyku-organizacziyi-edelvejs-yaka-zirvala-trening-z-pytan-lgbt-u-vinnyczi-vruchyly-pidozru.
On February 27, 2020, members of the organization, together with the National Militias, the paramilitary wing of the National Corps political party, broke into the Zhmerynka City Council’s premises where they tried to disrupt a vote of no confidence on the acting mayor and then damaged property.Kateryna Dadiuk, “Зламані ребра і струси мозку: Юрій Педос розповів про результати затримання “Нацдружин” у Жмеринці [Broken ribs and concussions: Yurii Pedos spoke about results of the detention of "National Militias" members in Zhmerynka], Vеzha, February 27, 2020, https://vezha.ua/zlamani-rebra-i-strusy-mozku-yurij-pedos-rozpoviv-pro-rezultaty-zatrymannya-natsdruzhyn-u-zhmeryntsi. In July 2020, police put Edelweiss leader Roman Kostyshyn under another suspicion for “intentionally inflicting beatings, light or moderate injuries on a law enforcement officer” (Part 2 of Article 345 of the Criminal Code) in connection with a fight in the Zhmerynka City Council.Kateryna Dadiuk, “Сутички у Жмеринці: лідеру “Едельвейса” змінили підозру в хуліганстві на заподіяння тілесних ушкоджень правоохоронцю” [Clashes in Zhmerynka: suspicion to the leader of “Edelweiss” was changed from hooliganism to causing bodily harm to a law enforcement official], Vеzha, July 29, 2020, https://vezha.ua/sutychky-u-zhmeryntsi-lideru-edelvejsa-zminyly-pidozru-v-huliganstvi-na-zapodiyannya-tilesnyh-ushkodzhen-pravoohorontsyu.
In October 2020, Roman Kostyshyn was nominated as a candidate for the Vinnytsia Regional Council by European Solidarity, a political party of the former President Petro Poroshenko, but failed to get elected as a result of the election.“Лідер “Едельвейсу”, який зірвав тренінг з питань ЛГБТ, йде до облради від «ЄС»” [Edelweiss leader, who disrupted an LGBT training, is running for regional council from “European Solidarity”], Zmina, October 1, 2020, https://zmina.info/news/ochilnyk-organizacziyi-edelvejs-yaka-zirvala-trening-z-pytan-lgbt-u-vinnyczi-jde-do-oblrady.
On January 14, 2021, members of Edelweiss took part in clashes with participants of a small entrepreneurs’ rally called "Save FOP" near the building of the Vinnytsia Regional State Administration.“У Вінниці відбулися сутички на мітингу SAVE ФОП. ФОТО” [Clashes took place in Vinnytsia at the SAVE FOP rally. PHOTO], Vezha, January 21, 2021, https://vezha.ua/u-vinnytsi-vidbulysya-sutychky-na-mityngu-save-fop-foto.
Edelweiss positions itself as a "youth nationalist organization based on the foundations of Ukrainian idea." In reality, the organizations’ rhetoric includes hints of neo-Nazi ideology. Its Telegram channel features a charter marked "invalid," which states that at the time of its creation the organization "positioned itself as an exclusively National Socialist organization," but now "we have grown into a serious NGO in Vinnytsia with many supporters, allies, activists, and activities," so now "we are obliged to behave like "adults." It also states that "based on more than 50 years of propaganda of negativity toward the ideology of National Socialism and the Third Reich, at the moment we cannot fully use or position ourselves as ideologues in this area, so such ideas, rules, and history should not travel outside of the organization." "In turn, we will aim to gradually explain [...] that National Socialism (or fascism*) is not bad."
The name “Edelweiss” is a reference to the name of the German Waffen-SS Mountain Infantry Division (and edelweiss is a mountain plant found in the Alps and Carpathians).