Some of the private warlords, regardless of their motives, were also genuine men of action who had distinguished themselves on the battlefield over the years, gaining substantial popularity among their men. One such figure – portrayed here on the right – was the enigmatic and ambitious ataman Stanislau Nikadzimavich Bulak-Balakhovich, a Byelorussian-Polish agronomist and a former Tsarist cavalry captain, who had literally fought his way through the Bolshevik lines to Poland, and eventually set up a recruitment agency at Hotel Savoy. After his first weeks in Warsaw, Kurko met two other Finns, who had already enlisted to Bulak’s newly-arrived forces. Without thinking the matter too much, Kurko followed the example of his countrymen and also joined Bulak’s operational group – a “division”, as it was generously called at the time – which was being organized in Brześć. The 20-year old Finnish volunteer was immediately accepted as an ensign to a cavalry reconnaissance company.
The exact number of Finnish volunteers who served in Bulak’s division is unknown. Kurko claims that as many as eighty Finns, thirteen of whom were officers, joined the division in the spring of 1920. The division included a special Finnish company commanded by major Stenberg and lieutenant Hagman; most of the men in the company were veterans of the Finnish Civil War, the Estonian War of Independence and other campaigns of the revolutionary years. Sulo Nykänen, who was an Ingrian Finn, served as the chief of Bulak’s espionage section. Before his association with the Poles and the Byelorussian nationalists, ataman Bulak had served with general Yudenich’s White Russian forces in Estonia, and had apparently developed a high opinion of Finnish soldiers. The Finns were, of course, not the only foreign soldiers in Bulak’s forces; a large number of German soldiers also served in the division.