On Friday, November 5, far-right groups in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv are leading a "crusade" against nightclubs that they are accusing of selling drugs in-house.
Fears are mounting that hundreds could turn out to the march, despite little evidence of wrongdoing by venues in the city, and that the "crusade" could escalate into raids and violence.
The accusations were made by a member of the far-right Telegram group Catharsis, described as a ‘Union Of Cultural Conservatives’, who posted this week that clubs such as Closer, HVLV, and ∄ (K-41) “have been selling drugs for years without hiding”.
The Telegram group has around 23,700 members. The same member called for a “crusade” against such clubs this Friday in Kyiv’s club district of Podil, describing the nightclubs as “brothels”.
An English translation of the post reads: ”We want the dens to cease to exist and Podil to become a clean, European zone, without drugs and the danger they pose. There will be many of us, there will be surprises.”
Many figures in Kyiv’s dance music scene have responded to the post, as well as local activists such as Nastia Pustova, who made a separate post and said that these factions might "try to block the entrance to establishments, damage property and beat casual visitors and passers-by.”
Pustova also said that these groups regularly attack subcultures in Ukraine. Described as a group for “neo-Nazi’s”, Pustova has warned clubbers to stick in groups this weekend, and refrain from taking drugs in the district of Podil.
She said that Catharsis are “known for distributing racist, sexist and homophobic material,” adding: "The development of cultural clusters and the condemnation of discrimination by young people runs counter to the far-right agenda,”
"As a result, the Nazis repeatedly attacked people of subcultural appearance, LGBTQIA+, and members of national minorities in Podil."
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All clubs accused of selling drugs have rejected the group’s allegations, with HVLV’s owner, Andy Yankovskyi, telling RA: “This is obvious slander, as the people who spread this information and announce these raids are pursuing certain goals of their own.”
Closer’s Alisa Mullen also commented on the rally, telling RA that “no one is afraid, they don't have any chance to get into the clubs, this is completely illegal so no one will let them in.”
Worries are mounting that police might take the side of far-right factions, particularly after local musician, Dmitry Bugaychuk, was beaten and detained by Kyiv police in May for drug possession. Catharsis used this case as an argument for this Friday’s rally.
Closer previously faced drug trafficking charges in 2016 after being accused of selling and distributing drugs through the nightclub by police. Nothing came of the charges.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter