The wife of Richard Spencer, the white nationalist leader, has accused him of being “physically, emotionally, verbally and financially abusive” throughout their marriage, according to divorce filings in Flathead County District Court in Montana.
Nina Koupriianova, who married Spencer in August 2010 and has two young children with him, alleges that Spencer physically abused her, including instances where she was “being hit, being grabbed, being dragged around by her hair, being held down in a manner causing bruising, and being prevented from calling for help.”
Koupriianova — who went by Kouprianova in some public interviews and N.K. in the documents — “has been reluctant to call police or seek an order of protection for fear of further reprisal by” Spencer, her lawyers said in court documents. “Much of the abuse has occurred in the presence of the parties’ children.”
The documents said that Spencer’s “controversial public life” has led “his entire family to be targets of violence,” and Spencer kept a loaded weapon in his bedroom that was “accessible by children” after he was “assaulted in public” on the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“Despite the risk to his family,” Koupriianova argued in court, “[Spencer] continues to engage in extremely polarizing public speech advocating ‘peaceful ethnic cleansing’ and a white-only ‘ethno-state’ which tends to invite passions and violence.”
“Most, if not all, of [Spencer’s] public speaking events result in violence,” the affidavit states.
Spencer, who claims to have coined the term “alt-right,” has promoted his beliefs on a national stage at events and rallies that have more often than not attracted violence. Spencer attended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, where a woman protesting white supremacy was killed.
“I dispute many of her assertions,” Spencer said in court filings, adding he “denies each, every, and all allegations.”
Spencer told BuzzFeed News his lawyers would send a comment.
Koupriianova's lawyer declined to comment.
Koupriianova and Spencer’s lawyers attempted to seal the divorce filings three times — but the judge denied those motions. The judge ruled that sealing the case would “infringe upon Article II, Section 9 of the Montana Constitution and the Freedom of the Press under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
The judge goes on, claiming the “parties have not established that their right to privacy supersedes the merits of public disclosure,” and “as with their previous two motions seeking the same result, the instant motions is DENIED.”
The couple has been living separately since July 1, 2017, with Spencer splitting his time between Whitefish, Montana — where Spencer and Koupriianova live in separate residences — and the Washington, DC, area.
Spencer has previously stated he was separated from his Russian-born wife, who also holds Canadian citizenship, as early as Nov. 22, 2016, in a Washington Post profile. He added in that article that his work was taking a “toll” on their relationship.
Koupriianova has tried to explain some of Spencer’s positions. When asked by the Observer to explain her husband’s desire to create an ethnostate, she said, “In my understanding, these comments are about a theoretic future — a dream — for people of European descent, per se, not concrete policy suggestions for contemporary United States.”
She added, “‘Ethnic cleansing’ is a very heavy, loaded term. There are some recent examples of fairly peaceful separations.”
When asked in the same interview, “Do you think that people of other races should be eradicated in order to achieve the perfect society?” She responded, “No.”
In the divorce filings, Koupriianova alleged Spencer had increased his “alcohol consumption,” which “contributes to his aggressive and erratic behavior and reduces his impulse control.” Spencer denied this.
The documents also claim that Spencer was verbally abusive to their children’s babysitter, including in front of their children, where he allegedly called the babysitter a “fucking sub-mediocre human being” and a “fucking moron.” The court filing goes on to claim both children had been adversely impacted by his behavior.
“None of the allegations of ‘abuse’ have anything to do with my children,” Spencer wrote in his own 48-page affidavit.
Spencer goes on to write that Koupriianova “obviously and litigiously, tries to rope the children into our dispute by saying they were in the room next door or they overheard abusive talk.”
Koupriianova’s 78-page affidavit includes exhibits containing text messages and emails that are meant to corroborate her claims, in addition to photos that supposedly show bruising suffered by Koupriianova. Copies of the court documents provided by the Flathead County clerk are in black and white and are overexposed.
Koupriianova said that Spencer’s favorite statement to her was, “The only language women understand is violence.” He also allegedly told her once, “I’m famous, and you are not! I’m important, and you are not!”
In January 2011, about five months after their civil wedding ceremony and three weeks before their church wedding ceremony, Koupriianova said that Spencer dragged her down the stairs by her “legs, arms and hair” and threw her on a couch, resulting in bruises.
“I was very sick with the stomach flu, could not keep food or water down, and wanted to stay in bed recovering. Mr. Spencer wanted to watch a movie downstairs and did not take ‘no’ for an answer,” she wrote. “He dragged me out of bed by my arms, legs, and hair, dragged me down the stairs, and threw me onto the couch. At that point he calmed down and turned on his movie. The incident resulted in bruises.”
In 2012, she said, Spencer “had me down on the ground smashing my head into the floor.” She added, “I remember feeling ashamed that the neighbors might hear what’s going on.”
In early July 2014, Koupriianova said that when she was four months pregnant, Spencer “got on top of me, held me down with his bodyweight, and held me by my neck and lower jaw,” which she said caused bruising.
She included in court records an email exchange from July 7 where she wrote to Spencer saying, “I am not ready to converse with you after what you’ve done. My jaw is bruised.”
“I’m sorry, and I feel terrible,” Spencer responded.
Days later, while visiting her mother in Canada, Koupriianova said, “my mother noticed bruises on my jaw, chest, and leg. She urged me to document them,” which at that point, she said, were “faded and yellow.” Koupriianova included the photographs in the court filings via an email to herself she titled “Bruises.”
Koupriianova said that incident while they were watching a movie and happened after she “attempted to cuddle” with Spencer. “He often went into ‘Mr. Hyde’ in the evenings and had issues with handling physical intimacy, including hugs.”
In late October 2017 — when she was nine months pregnant — she said Spencer tried to “punch me in the face” during an unexpected visit. In a transcript of an audio recording in the court file allegedly from the same night, Koupriianova said to Spencer, “You’re going to hit a pregnant woman?” And later, “You just tried to push me into the freaking stove.”
And in February 2018, she said, after the first mediation session, Spencer “grabbed, pulled, and held me by my hair in the car.”
The affidavit also contains pages of transcripts of conversations with Spencer that Koupriianova surreptitiously recorded on her phone.
In one transcript, she said Spencer asked her, “Do you think your parents will attend your funeral?”
In his affidavit, Spencer goes into great length to express his longing to see his children since divorce proceedings were initiated, and how interaction with his children is important for their own maturation.
Spencer says that Koupriianova repeatedly prevented his visitation by “stonewalling, coming up with implausible excuses,” and “willingly ignoring polite requests,” and provided screenshots of text message conversations as evidence of the excuses and stonewalling.
“Childhood separation from parents may be considered child abuse,” he wrote.
In October, a judge said Spencer could have supervised visits with his children at two neutral locations and could FaceTime with his children four times a week for 30 minutes each.
The judge also directed Spencer to “enter into counseling focusing on anger and communication issues, so he can learn how to effectively communicate in a contentious situation.”
Before Koupriianova filed for divorce in June 2018, Spencer had faced fallout related to his unabashed positions on white supremacy and his advocacy for a white ethnostate.
In January of this year, Spencer told BuzzFeed News he couldn’t find a lawyer to defend him in a lawsuit that seeks to hold multiple people and groups responsible for the violence at the rally in Charlottesville.
The rally captured international headlines as violence broke out between various white supremacist groups and protesters in Charlottesville over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Heather Heyer was killed when a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr., 21, drove into a group of counterprotesters, resulting in more than 30 others being injured.
And in April, Facebook took down two Facebook pages belonging to Spencer, Vice News first reported. In May, his website AltRight.com was taken down by hosting service GoDaddy because it “crossed the line and encouraged and promoted violence in a direct and threatening manner.”
Nina Koupriianova’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.