Podil: Nazis and Police vs. Techno
We translated our respond for Antifa.ru channel about the situation with the attacks of far-rights in Podil, Kyiv.
After the uprising of 2014, techno-scene started to develop in Kyiv and gathered youth focused on the Berlin club culture. The first underground places located mainly in Podil area. Today it is a cultural center and youth district of Kyiv. There are nightclubs, bars and cultural venues.
In a while, the same youth and owners of venues took their part in various protests, including the campaign against police lawlessness and former interior minister Arsen Avakov. The turning point was June 25 in 2020, when Khvylovyi bar, KyivPride and La Révolte organized a public meeting to discuss the further development of the district. Hosts were concerned about illegal searches of people in Podil, a raid on one of the cultural spaces and far-rights attacks. Speaking about neo-nazis, we should keep in mind that they were closely connected with police managers and personally Arsen Avakov. More information about Avakov, neo-nazis and their bounds you can be read here.
From the very morning of June 25th, police warned the bar about the possibility of attack organized by far-rights. When the meeting began, various checking officers arrived but didn’t reveal any violations. Then the police just broke in and disrupted the event. You can read more about it here. After that, the belief that the police reform of 2015 changed something, was finally destroyed for many people.
With winter, venues work restrictions erupted due to coronavirus. Police decided to use the opportunity to take control over local bars and clubs. As far as we know, Khvylovy actively began to promote the idea of abandoning informal agreements with the police and resolving all issues exclusively in the legal field. That was the story how Podil’ venues created the coordination chat, after a long pushing of idea of self-organizing. The main administrator of that chat became the then bodyguard of Khvylovy, anarchist Alexey Bolenkov (Max Bilorus). By the way, starting from spring 2021, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU — fully corrupted special service of Ukraine) tried to deport him back to Belarus, but failed.
This chat discussed quarantine restrictions, current rules and how to fill out protocols in case of police visit. When people texted to the chat about raids Max Belarus came to support them, made photos and recorded the actions of police officers.
Among the high-profile cases was a raid over the Keller club with several police buses and a dozen patrol cars. There cops put visitors “face-to-the-wall”, made a show with throwed zip-packs and disrupted the event. Then there were several more high-profile raids on Nyzhnieurkivska Str, 31. All these underground venues were quite marginal for the average person, representatives of LGBTQ+ were feeling freely there, so police wasn’t shy about beating or breaking down the doors.
However Khvylovy looks more like a decent hipster bar. Therefore, there were 30+ “polite” police visits and disrupted parties, accordingly. This is an absolute record in Kiev!
Self-organization against the police lawlessness
The community of Podil watched the situation but didn’t know how to cope with it. The key moment was the situation when cops beated the musician Dmitry Bugaychuk. Because Podil is an area with a large number of clubs, cops often stopped and searched people for prohibited substances to receive a bribe (by the way, in Ukraine, the law prohibits police officers from climbing into their pockets). Dmytro Bugaychuk was the victim of such a check. When he’ve been going home, the cops grabbed him and punched in the face so Dmytro lost consciousness. After woke up, he saw himself lying in his own blood. Cops showed him a bag of marijuana and said that they found it in his pockets. The incident was reported to the Podil chat, in an hour later there were already 50 people on the site.
Зупинимо поліцейське сафарі на Подолі
Креативні спільноти Подолу організовують мітинг аби мирно та разом вимагати негайного звільнення начальника…
A few days later, on May 21, about 1,000 people came to the police station, expressing their dissatisfaction with the police. This is how the initiative of @vestnikpodil and the Telegram bot appeared. Their aim was to publish information about cops routes, new arrests, searches, bribe extortions etc.
On July 13, resigned interior minister Arsen Avakov, who had his control over the right-wing movement, had close ties with nazis from “Azov” battalion and his political side-projects. With that neo-nazis got weakend, some of them met repressions, but for Podil it did not change the situation. That time another group of far-rights called “Catarsis” (from the former C14 organization) appeared at the scene. They gathered activists and announced “Crusades against drugdens”: every weekend they tried to block and disrupt the work of venues that refused to pay money to the police and actively participated in actions against police lawlessness.
They lasted 3 weeks, until nationalists attacked Khvylovy: beat the windows, smashed furniture and attacked workers. Cops detained some of the attackers, but upon the arrival of the C14 leader, who is also the organizer of the “Crusades”, just released the detainees. We wrote about it here.
After that, the Podil’ community announced a meeting in front of the MIA building. More than 300 people attended.
The attacks happened with barely concealed police compliment, and it seems that they used these attacks to achieve own goals: closing politically conscious venues, subdue them or obtain financial benefits — we don’t know for sure yet. There is information that the services of the far-right were paid, as well as that they were guaranteed release in case of detention. What we actually saw.
What’s the role of anti-fascists?
Our values closer to the Podil’ community so that’s why we are the active part of it. Some of us working in the venues, communicate with owners and managers or just have a good relations. The situation seems similar to the 00’s, when nazis attacked the punk scene, and the punks didn’t know what to do. So we are sharing our experience. Anti-fascists and anarchists. Anti-fascists and anarchists conduct and publish investigations about the far-rights, help to run information campaigns, voluntarily protect locations and some of us even catch nazis. We also launched a special bot that records far-rights attacks, systematizes information and will publish real statistics of their actions.
At the same time, it should be emphasized not to mislead readers: Podil’ community can’t be called “left”, it’s rather multidimensional and contradictory, but here is a spirit of freedom in it. That’s why we support it.
Our main channel based in Telegram and we ask you to subscribe, follow the news and spread our links among your friends & comrades. The text is written and editted by @UANTIFA collective — the voice of the Antifa movement in Ukraine — in cooperation with Antifa.ru.
*the opinions contained in the text could not coincide with the opinions of some activists of Antifa movement in Ukraine.