FACE OF UKRAINIAN NATIONALISM
How Ukrainian football fans have become soldiers and social activists
From 2014, after the Revolution of Dignity, the right radical views have begun to grow up in Ukraine. The backbone of the new Nationalistic way are young people from football fans groups - Ultras. Ultras were active participants in Maidan and founded “Azov” regiment (Ukrainian Nationalistic organization). Now Azov plays an active role in the War in Eastern Ukraine, also takes care in civil deals, example- illegal constructions.
Old wealthy part of Kyiv where you can find costly cars, like this one, which tries to drive away as fast as possible. Pechersky District Court of Kyiv looks like ea typical Ukrainian state building, the main role is basic and dull, but everyone knows this is a flawless place for detaining by police in case of a protest, that may rise after another contradictory court decision
One for everyone, everyone for one
13-15 years old guys are holding Ukrainian flags with black volunteer badges of “Azov” regiment, the famous Ukrainian Nationalistic organization. They talk about police, friendship, and principles of brotherhood. Their uniform and T-shirts are marked with “Djura” badges, a mark of a rookie in Azov community.
Young men with balaclavas are angry and hostile. They were strong and covered with tattoos. Everyone can see their background due to the appearance and tattoos with letter “D” (fan club “Dinamo” Kyiv football team). These guys once were ultras, football hooligans.
Young tattooed skinny ladies had a discussion about “undercover” policemen, dressed in civilian clothes and capturing protesters on video. The information about the “undercover cops” has spread rapidly so protesters retrieved.
“They tried to help us!” says a lady that witnessed the event “I can’t stand that they want to take this boy to the jail. No one has cared about our buildings and our yard till Azov came. I want my grandchildren to have fun on swings. I don’t want to see costly cars near my home and penthouse overlapping the sun.”
New living block
The place near post-soviet dorm building is the perfect shelter for homeless people and animals, comfortable free of charge parking. Inhabitants of close buildings have had hope or even faith in creation the children garden on the empty space since 1992. But this summer “Kyiv city construction bureau” has decided to choose another way - build new living block. Inhabitants were not agreed.They thought the construction was illegal because“Kyiv city construction bureau” hadn’t the full package of documents and the permission for a building. Ukrainian police “has kept” the society quite and safe. In other words, that means that they were on the side of state building company. “Azov”, as the civil active organization has decided to take the situation under control with their own style. Hundreds young strong men crushed construction of the new living block in one night.
Kyiv center is very eclectic and dynamic part of the city. If you see huge masses of people and loud sounds you have two option to choose: new urban festival or action of protest, both of them are common after the Revolution of Dignity that took place in 2014.
These time it was the protest of the civil department “Azov” in front of “Kyiv city construction bureau”.
Incinerated tyres, trash from the construction site, hundreds of military men, skinny football fans with hidden faces, these are main ingredients of traditional Ukrainian protest.
These time the peaceful protest has extended to conflict. The leader of the protest and his colleagues were arrested by the police.
From Ultras to Azov, from a football game to the War
Sergei Filimonov “Filia”,the head of Azov civil department for weeks, is the public person now but his community locked up the secret. Strong, tall young with an obvious sportive background.
His friends ”Bald” and Yura also looked like 2 buddies from sports section that decided walk these warm evening.
”I have chosen football fan lifestyle 6 years ago, back to that time, I was just a schoolboy. I am a professional sportsman, specialize in Wrestling. Ultras community just has strengthened my Nationalistic views that were formed at school because of literature and Ukrainian History. Of course, I began to take part in street activism, we protected people from illegal buildings, stood by illegally detained activists. I like my community, friendships, fraternity. I like challenges when you should uphold and defend the ideals.” commented Filia.
His department of Ultras (notes. Hundred of Sviatoslav Chorobryi) was one of the most active in Maidan. They have occupied state and city building before coming others activists and defended them from police and special forces.
Filia has decided to be a volunteer and liberates Eastern Ukraine from Russian occupation. 25 ultras were the beginners of “Azov” regiment. 6 participants of them have liberated the first occupied town - Mariupol. Filimonov has fought in hottest points: Ilovaisk, Shyrokine, Mariupol. He was injured in Ilovaisk.He came back to activism after his treatment and rehabilitation period and began the head of Azov civil department.
“We should understand, Independence that we have now, was some kind of present in 1991 because USSR was crushed, we didn’t fight for it. Now we have the decisive period for our country: it will exist or not. We are people willing to fight for higher goals, save our country and create future for our children. I understand “Nationalism” as love to my country and possibility to be proud of my nation. I understand it like that. You should be ready to give your life for your country, for the future of your children!” explained Sergey Filimonov.
Prosecutor tried to build his accusation on facts of beating some policeman and asked 5 years of a jail for Filia. The lawyer argued that the policeman was not wearing a uniform or any police insignias and looked more like “titushka” (notes. A thug, paid by the government and acting under supervision of police to incite violence, provoke unlawful behavior among peaceful protesters). The parliament member Andrei Biletskyi, who is also the leader of Azov regiment and Oleg Petrenko, representative pro-goverment party stood up or the defendant and asked to bail Filia.
The process was continued 4 or 5 hours, someone tried to get something from the stream but there were hear only voices of support from the lane “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes”, “Glory to the nation! Death to the enemies!” and typical expression of Ukrainian ultras “Together till the end!”
Young Ukrainian Nationalism
Small children yard between old buildings near Pechersky District Court of Kyiv was crowded by Filias team of support. Some of them had fun on swings for children, some rested on the benches, another ones were making selfies with friends.
“I am from the old generation of Nationalists, I am 32 and I am proud of this young Nationalists. It is not effortless to make the protest against the building company. The massive flow of money! This man deserves respect. Ukrainian nationalism in on the first step of being now. 2012-2013 years were the point of change in Nationalism. New generation chooses to be more active,” - Kolya, participant of Zakarpatska department “Azov” just has stopped talking and get happy noise from the lane.
The whole narrow, that 5 seconds ago looked like persons from kindergarten, bounced from them places,ran away and jumped the fences.
Lights and freedom
Bright lights flooded the whole lane, car’s alarm scared the whole center of Kyiv. “Filia,Filia,Filia,” - the crowd shouted. Sergei Filimonov was free of accusation and released on bail. Filia thanked for support and faith. He invited comrades to visited “Kyiv city construction bureau”. 5 minutes walking and hundreds of Nationalists has filled the square in front of the building company.
This action was looked like performance. Black fires, grey smoke, shouting, a loud speech of the leader “Azov” Andrei Biletskiy made the action more resolute. The fraternity declamated the Anthem of Ukrainian Nationalists, show them traditional signs. No, there weren’t Roman salute, just putting a right hand on the chest near heard.
The performance was a successful action for making attention of media for the problem of illegal construction.Sergei Filimonov recited:“I came back here for the benefit of the people. The blame does not recognize. I am glad that my support as my colleagues and residents of the alley. I’m glad that gathered so many signatures. My motivation only grew. And I know I’m on the right way! Together and to the end! one for everyone, everyone for one!”