Fresh off their recent interview for Chech magazine Kids & Heroes, we’re pleased to give you the English version of a war-related conversation with Kharkiv, Ukraine based oi! street punk rock band BEZLAD.
The band has teamed up with us to share their thoughts on the current crisis, the situation in their hometown, Ukrainian nation, fighting for their homeland, and more.
I have to start the interview by the question – what is the situation in your city now? How does the war affect your lives and how does ordinary life in shelled Kharkiv work?
The situation is quite tense. After the hordes of invaders were driven further away from the city the life started to return to normal, as far as possible in the face of massive destruction of the city. Public transport started running again where the infrastructure allows. Many people began to return to the city because of getting the impression of safety. But shelling still continues. And every day rascist (rashist) rockets still hit the city. They even got the schedule – every night about 11pm or midnight some rockets are being launched at Kharkiv. Sometimes shelling happens during the daytime as well. And unfortunately people returning to the city are still putting themselves at risk. It happened that people came back after staying in other regions and died few days later.
Now the aggressor uses longer-range MLRS (Smerch and Iskander). Rockets are launched from russian territory (Belgorod and region) or from still occupied territory in Kharkiv region. These rockets are definitely more expensive than the ones occupiers used when they were near the city (MLRS Grad and similar) but they bring a lot of damage and russia doesn’t save money on killing civilians.
Businesses are re-opening in some areas, there are more and more people on the streets, even young skaters have appeared again near the theater at their usual spot. But it’s like tightrope walking, on the edge of the abyss.. you never know where will be the next strike and who dies then.
We get fragmentary information about people from the Oi! / Punk / HC scene who are involved in the defense of Ukraine and, unfortunately, also about those who have lost their lives. How much do people on the scene get involved in defense and how does it actually work?
We do not have all the statistics. But there are a lot of people from the scene who are in the Armed Forces, in the Territorial Defense or doing volunteer work in the rear. Also some other people make donations to official Armed Forces or volunteer organizations and it’s impossible to track everyone. The fact is that now the society is consolidated. A huge evil has come to our land and threatens our existence so many people do what they can to stop it.
Putin said his “special military operation” wanted to denazify Ukraine, among other things. In the Czech Republic and in the West in general, there is a lot of different information and misinformation about how strong the neo-Nazi scene in Ukraine is, how much the Azov regiment is made up of Nazis, how much the Nazis are involved in the leadership of Ukraine. Can you please describe the situation from your point of view?
First of all, it doesn’t matter what Putler says or any of his farting heads (like Lavrov, Peskov, Medvedev, Zakharova etc). Anything they say is lies and it’s proven by time. They are filthy deceitful nits who will say anything to justify their actions or play for time and continue playing their games.
To your question. Definitely we have neo-nazis like anywhere else.
But it should be noted that there are no ultra-right in the country’s leadership. So that’s 100% bulshit about nazis involvement there. If you compare the results of elections in different countries you’d be surprised to see that in Ukraine far-right representatives are a tiny minority, incommensurably less than in many European countries.
What is true? That’s Azov was co-founded by Neo-Nazi guy in 2014 (Andriy Biletsky). Yes, but he headed Azov for only a few months in the summer and early autumn of 2014, and returned to politics after that. Since October 2014 he has had no formal relationship with the unit.
Yes, at the beginning it was consisted mainly (but not limited) of representatives of right-wing organizations and ultras. But the battalion began to grow, and over time turned into a regiment. That’s because many people were willing to join it voluntarily due to the fact that it had a good promotion and it was considered one of the most effective since the liberation and defense of Mariupol in 2014 by the battalion and other units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But it should be mentioned that representatives of different nationalities and ethnicities are fighting in Azov and the commandment have stated that “We despise Nazism and Stalinism. Because our country has suffered the most from these totalitarian regimes and false ideologies”.
Most far-right fighters left the regiment by the end of 2014. The rest of the right-wing radicals, who openly articulated their views, were deliberately “cleansed” by the new regiment command in 2017 (according to Vyacheslav Likhachev, political analyst, head of the National Minorities Monitoring Group). In recent years, there have been no grounds at all for accusations that neo-Nazis serve in the Azov Regiment to some notable significant extent. Which, however, does not exclude the marginal presence of some of such individuals.
Ukrainians of different ethnic backgrounds (including Russians, Jews, Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Georgians, etc.), religious and political views have served and continue to serve in Azov. There are no restrictions in this sense. According to the heads of the unit, most of the personnel are Russian-speaking.
So it feels like enough to get the idea about Azov.
The war in Donbas lasted for 8 years, how did you perceive this conflict and what do you think about the Russian statement that there was the genocide of the Russians living in the area?
Like it was mentioned before most of statements of russian warmongers are just another propaganda scam. You just need to see official numbers of civilian victims (even taken from official prorussian separatist clowns’ sources) during last years. And also need to look how Donetsk looked after “8 years” of so called “bombings” and how look all the towns in Donbas which were attacked by russian imperialist plague after February 24th. The real genocide is happening right now. It is paradoxical that Putler’s hyenas are destroying a predominantly Russian-speaking region. Just wiping it off the face of the earth. russia must be stopped. If some idiots think that the putler will get enough of Ukraine and this plague will not affect everyone else, then they are obviously deeply mistaken and do not realize their stupidity and the scale of the madness of the bunker dictator. Russia is a threat to the whole world, and world peace. Their repeated threats to European countries and indeed to the world as a whole with nuclear weapons prove this.
You’re going outside Ukraine for several gigs. How did this idea come about, how difficult is it to leave your country now and what do you expect from the tour? Where will you specifically play?
We planned gigs in Europe since our first tour in 2019. Planned huge tour for whole summer in 2020 but covid ruined the plans. Finally 2022 started looking like the year when plans will take shape and there were some events postponed from previous years. But..russian invaders decided to ruin plans and lifes of almost all the people in Ukraine.
Touring abroad became much more difficult. We have martial law in our country so no male person is allowed to leave the country unless he’s older 60, father of 3 kids or disabled. So all others have to get special permission to be able to cross the border. And that’s what we are now trying to do through the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy. Only a few dates left before our first show and we are hoping for a miracle. We have 3 gigs planned this week – Rebeliant Fest in Poland, Kosmos Chemnitz in Germany and unbelievable gig in Prague. Also we have another festival couple weeks later, in Ostrava (Czech) and few more in August. We didn’t do active booking because we were not sure if we’re able to go on the road due to the war. So if we get the papers then will be looking for last minute gigs already next week. And maybe for more gigs for August if we get permission papers for such long timeframe or manage to get new ones.
Where can people contribute to support you and what would you say to people who do?
If we manage to get to EU then we’d like to welcome everyone to our gigs and support us by being there and maybe buying merch (if we get anything printed by then), also we’ll probably have the box for donations for Kharkiv Hardcore to support the folks related to hc/punk scene who are now involved in the defense of our land from ruscist invaders. Or you could get in touch with us through social networks if we don’t meet.
We are really thankful everyone who doesn’t forget what’s happening now in Ukraine, happening every moment even while you’re reading this.
We’re thankful everyone who takes part in the protests and demos, who pushes your politicians to help Ukraine more efficiently to defeat the aggressor, who donates money or gear and equipment to support our warriors.
We are thankfull to those who help our refugees and relocated persons inside and outside Ukraine.
Everyone is tired. We are tired of war, our soldiers are tired and the world is tired too. The worst thing would be if people start to ignore the genocide organized by putin and other russian war criminals. Just because they’re tired and don’t want to see the war, to hear about it. It’s hard to help more and more, again and again, but if our European friends and allies and any sentient sympathetic caring human beings start to forget what’s going on and stop helping then the evil will win. And all those sacrifices will be in vain. And the aggressor won’t pay for murders, robberies, rapes, destroyed cities, economy, infrastructure, the destruction of the nation, its bearers and cultural heritage.