On February 7th, as part of the video-series exhibition Armed and Dangerous, the second public event of the parallel programme took place at IZONE Creative Community in Kyiv, Ukraine. The exhibition and the programme is organised by the IZOLYATSIA Foundation. According to the creator and curator of the video-series, Mykola Ridnyi, the project is aimed at problematising the militarization of Ukrainian society and the prevailing ideology of violence in contemporary Ukraine. The lecture by Anna Hrytsenko was on the problem of the participation of young people in far-right movements.
The lecture was given by sociologist Anna Hrytsenko, a researcher of far-right movements, who was going to discuss the facts and causes of the growth in popularity of radical right-wing movements amongst Ukrainian youth. A group of young men, about 20 people, among whom was Aleksey “Stalker” Svinarenko from National Resistance and the radical organisation C14 (Sich), appeared at the event and tried to disrupt the lecture. Despite the presence of the police, young people painted chairs with a swastika, switched off the lights at the power box several times, and disrupted the lecturer throughout the entire event.
Representatives of radical right-wing organisations also filed a criminal charge against Anna Hrytsenko according to Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: "Violation of citizen equality on the grounds of race, nationality, religious beliefs, disability and other."
Unfortunately, attacks by right-wing representatives on cultural events, artists and activists are becoming more frequent in Ukraine. In 2009, after the debate Promoting Homosexuality or Promoting Tolerance?, the Kyiv art gallery YaGallery was set on fire. In 2017, the pogrom of the exhibition by David Chichkan at VCRC Missed Opportunity. A month ago, C14 representatives got involved in the case of student Spartak Khachanov at NAOMA for his anti-militarist work.
IZOLYATSIA is an institution in exile, forced to move from Donetsk to Kyiv because of the war in eastern Ukraine. According to its mission, IZOLYATSIA considers it necessary and relevant to create, through art, a discourse surrounding and critical reflection on the phenomenon of the militarisation of Ukrainian society and the radicalisation of right movements.
Comments by lecture attendees:
Mykola Ridnyi, artist, curator and author of the Armed and Dangerous video-series project:
"About 30 representatives of conservative organisations came to the lecture by Anna Hrytsenko regarding the participation of young people in right-wing movements. Some of them were members of the radical organisation National Resistance. The police let them in saying: “Please, behave yourself!” As soon as the lecture began, the ultra-rights began shouting down the lecturer and disrupting the planned meeting. They blew up the microphone and video screen blocking access to the power box. During the event, the right-wing representatives insulted and threatened the lecturer and other people who held LGBTQ+ and left positions. Their shouting interfered with another lecture about the architecture of the local Podil district in the auditorium next door. In an atmosphere of psychological pressure, most of the audience left the event before it finished. When the ultra-rights had left, there were numerous swastikas graffitied around IZONE. "
Bogdan Altinnik, activist:
"From the very beginning, about 40 representatives of the right-wing came to the lecture; there were twice as many of them as there were listeners themselves. The police could not do anything since the right-wing representatives did not take violent action. However, their appearance frightened by the majority of those present, they also verbally mocked the lecturer, led a manipulative "dialogue," and in the end, even threatened the left and LGBTQ+ activists. So the lecture was disrupted."
Demyan Romanovich, visitor:
"Even on the way to the event, I noticed a large group of people with ultra-right symbols gathering at the nearest metro station. I told the police officers who were at the entrance to IZONE about that. They, as it turned out, did not know at all that the event was scheduled for this evening, reacted aggressively but assured that they would "cover us". Nevertheless, shortly after the beginning of the lecture, the same group of about 25-30 ultra-right people appeared at the auditorium, began provoking the lecturer and visitors, behaved rudely and tried to prevent the event from happening. At the same time, they did not resort to physical violence. Among them, I recognised members of the neo-Nazi organisation National Resistance. In addition to this, I noticed representatives of the political party Svoboda, Ruslana Andreyka and Yuri Noevy, in the corridor. The police looked confused and did not know how to react to what was happening. "