Before presenting the original text of our reply (posted on Indymedia on February 19) we would like to provide a short review on a discussion which took place at Kopi, Berlin on February 20 as had been planned. As far as we know the authors of the critical article were contacted by Kopi collective and invited to the discussion.
MDB were there in full force and the representative of WWF interrupted his family vacation to come to Berlin at his own expense specifically to take part in the discussion.
Under these circumstances we find it unacceptable that the authors of the defamatory article never showed up despite receiving an invitation from us and the representatives of Kopi. Regardless we had a great discussion about militant Russian Antifascist scene and the differences between Russian, Middle Eastern, Eastern and Western European Antifascist communities.
All in all we've come to realize that unfortunately the criticism expressed in the original accusational article did not stem from any real concern for the scene, but was nothing but slender aimed against us, our bands, Russian Militant Antifascist Scene, our European supporters and promoters, as well as an attempt to instigate an inner-scene scandal.
Considering all of the above, the tone of the defamatory article, which seemed purposefully rude, and the fact that the article and questions to our counter statement were posted only in German (while we've made it clear that none of us know German) - we consider the discussion with these people closed. However it is important to note that we are willing to continue and develop the conversation about the differences in scenes with people who are able to discuss in a respectful, equal and constructive ways.
We believe that the time of anonymous intrigues, elitism and disrespectful methods should come to an end. We are entering the new era of open and transparent dialogue between Antifascist scenes from all over the planet!
We would like to say THANK YOU to Kopi collective for providing the space for the discussion, all of their time and effort that went into organizing the event. Thanks to everyone who came to the discussion and supported us and especially our comrades from Siria who took a stand with us.
We also want to add, that the translator who did an English version posted on Avtonom.org provides untrue information in his PS, saying the following: “Razor Bois song "Kick Homophobia Out Of Our Scene" was recorded quite some years ago - on the theme of this song there were severly figths in the band, after the guy who wrote it left and the song was never played ever after."
We have no idea where the translator found this information and how the said translator plans to prove it because it is not true - everyone familiar with our bands knows that there were no conflicts inside the band because of this song and “the guy who wrote it” never left the band and also still plays in Moscow Death Brigade from its first days".
Now we'd like to present our official reply to the accusive article. This reply was posted on Indymedia on February 19 and also can be read there.
Dear all! On behalf of What We Feel and Moscow Death Brigade we are presenting our official reply to the article called "Die Bands What We Feel und Moscow Death Brigade als Beispiel eines zu kritisierenden Antifaschismus", which accuses us and Russian militant Antifascist scene in general of being “fascist, homophobic, sexist” etc. While those accusations in general sound outright bizarre to us, we would like to answer these allegations in detail.
First of all we’d like to say that we’re happy that this subject has finally come to the public attention. For years now anonymous posters have been trying to hinder our tours sending letters with defamatory statements about our bands to the promoters and supporters. For example they were fruitlessly trying to cancel our Benefit Tour in support of the family of a murdered Russian Antifa activist Ivan Khutorskoi in May 2014, Ultrash Fest and Barrio Antifascista Fest.
While the promoters either had paid no attention to the hatemail or had been satisfied with our explanations, we still tried to meet with the authors for a proper discussion with representatives of European Antifascist scene acting as mediators, as our bands are always open for criticism. However the ill-meaning authors kept avoiding the dialogue.
Our bands can’t help but wonder why the authors never tried to discuss the topics of their article with us in the first place. Still clueless why this article was posted while we were on tour and why there had been no English (or preferably Russian) translation which didn’t let us to properly read it, understand it and reply to it on time. We have to admit that we see it as a dishonest approach, which is both disrespectful to us and to the readers. We also are unpleasantly surprised by the tone of the article. This and all of the above make us think that the real reason behind this activity is personal hostility.
We see this situation as a great opportunity to share the story of our bands that some of the readers might not be familiar with and to finally discuss the differences between Russian and European scenes and the ways to overcome them.
We’ve written this post in English, instead of our first language Russian, to make sure that people who want to read it and understand it can do so with as little difficulty, as possible, since members of Antifascist communities across the world usually use English to communicate with each other. A German translation is currently being worked on and will be posted as soon as possible.
As far as we understand - thanks to our friends and Google Translate, the authors are trying to state that MDB, WWF, some related bands and, what can be assumed from the language of the article, Russian militant Antifascist scene in general - are not real Antifascists but in fact violent thugs, homophobes, sexists, nationalists etc.
Some statements are supported by the quotes from a couple interviews. First one with Gryundik - member of 210 and ex-member of Razor Bois. The other with Vova - member of MDB, ex-member of Razor Bois and ex-member of WWF.
The interview with Gryundik was deleted after its publication because, according to 210, Gryundik’s answers were interpreted in a wrong way by the interviewer.
Razor Bois interview with Vova is 5 year old and his quotes have been mistranslated and taken out of context.
Other arguments try to link us to people with whom we’ve never done anything and whom we don’t even know, or a label, with which we’ve seized any cooperation some time ago.
Finally certain accusations seem to be based on the authors’ perception and assumptions, which either stem from lack of knowledge of the subject or a biased point of view.
We will try to reply in detail to the more important arguments of the article. Unfortunately time is working against us and we also didn’t have an adequate translation of the original article, so it is hard to present a well-prepared reply, but we will try to do our best.
To conclude this section - we want to state that the accusations don’t have any link to reality. Claiming that we are xenophobes or fascists goes against what we’ve always intended to express in our songs, in our statements, in our actions and our work for the Antifascist ideals. We’ve fought against racism, nationalism and all types of discrimination based on ethnic origin, skin color, religion. We’ve fought against discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. Against stereotypes and generalizations in general. Because of our position we have been physically attacked on numerous occasions, received death threats, our photos and private information posted on Neo Nazi websites with calls for our physical elimination.
2. Differences between Russian and European society and scenes.
The statement that “Russian Antifascists are actually Fascists” is not new to us - as we said, we had already seen it before in numerous anonymous emails, possibly distributed by the same group of people. This statement reflects nothing but a will to ignore the huge gap between the European and Russian societies, conditioned by the historic and cultural factors.
It’s necessary to consider that every lifeform, person or society develops gradually, successively passing the stages of evolution. The processes that were finished in German society many years ago, have just started in Russia. Before 1991 Russia had more than 70 years of oppressive totalitarian regime (not mentioning preceding complicated historical events and processes) and right after 1991 our society jumped straight into prehistoric capitalism. We still live in a very conservative and intolerant society which can not be compared with that of Western Europe.
The same situation is with the scene - the Russian Antifascist scene emerged literally from nothing in early-mid 00’s and immediately found itself facing the well-developed and then-powerful Fascist movement - probably the strongest in the world at that moment. The Neo-Nazis were distracted from attacking minorities and channelled all their hate against the newly formed enemy.
In these conditions Antifa movement was put onto a brink of physical survival. From the very first moment it was militant and subcultural, it consisted of people of different views and was centered around the developing music scene. There were no political parties supporting the Antifa. Instead there was a constant pressure from the Nazis, police and society. Lack of information or good contacts resulted in the fact that the movement usually chose it’s own ways of development, some of which look questionable, now that these people have a luxury of thinking about things other than survival.
The war of Russian Antifascists against Neo-Nazis resembles the struggle of European Antifascist movements of the first part of the XX century against the young fascist parties: brutal street fights, propaganda wars, desperate attempts to win the support of the public.
Considering the colossal cultural differences between the Western European and Russian societies it’s easy to understand that some of the methods used by the young Russian antifascist scene might seem debatable for the representative of a modern German scene. However the scene as well as such parts of it as WWF and MDB are constantly developing and trying to stay open for criticism, help and advice.
The authors of the article demonstrate an intentional disregard of those historical and cultural differences and features which seems like a blatant expression of Western European imperialism and elitism.
As a first comment on the issue we’d like to point out that the accusations are completely baseless. The article provides nothing to support the allegations, which only makes sense as there are no grounds on which anyone can base them. This is a very harmful tendency that creates a “Boy who cried wolf” situation when accusations of homophobia and sexism are thrown around without reason solely for dramatic effect. As a result the public gets used to most of it as groundless slur and real perpetrators are more likely to get away with actual homophobia and other types of discrimination.
A short excursion into the environment where we come from: Russia, like many other countries in the region is very homophobic. In the Soviet Union there was an Anti-Gay law, now we have the so-called Law against gay propaganda. The big part of the population went through the prison system so the significant part of the society still live by the prison code, which naturally trickled into the street code . We were raised in the working class neighborhoods where the derogatory words for “gay” were the strongest swear words one could use. According to the street code of honor if you were called that way you had to retaliate by severely beating up or even killing the abuser to avoid being shamed for life.
However even in those conditions we voiced openly our opinion against homophobia:
In 2008 Razor Bois (band with MDB members) released a song “Kick Homophobia Out Of Our Scene”, which stated that people had no right to judge other people’s sexuality as they had no business sticking their noses into other individuals’ personal lives.
For releasing and performing this song live we were criticized by many, who considered that song as an insult.
A year before that release, Razor Bois played and organized a benefit show in New York to support victims of Neo Nazi violence in Russia, including a member of Moscow Antifascist movement, who was brutally wounded by Nazis during an attempt of Antifascists to defend a Gay Pride demonstration in Moscow.
MDB played several times with gay pride banners displayed in venues and demonstrated it in their official videos, for example in this clip about MDB performance at Sorgingaua Fest in Basque Country (0:31): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSfTdL5oG7Q
Also check this photo of WWF with a banner against homophobia:
Members of our bands stand strongly against homophobia. Despite the fact that unfortunately derogatory homophobic words have been engraved in the environment where we come from as the strongest insults to one’s enemy during confrontations - we’ve always made sure to avoid any vocabulary that could be read as homophobic and could reproduce the stigmata associated with those words.
In 2008 Razor Bois released the song “Forward To The Past” which criticized discrimination against women and problems with sexism present today in many cultures and societies around the world, problems usually ignored even by the Antifa community
Today we can agree that the word “шлюха” (whore) can be interpreted as sexist in many contexts. But there was no intention in putting such a meaning into this word when using it in our lyrics written 6-7 years ago: ““ты нацистская шлюха” (you are a Nazi whore)[Till the End 2009], “Парни поднимают движ, шлюхи ссорятся как дети” (guys are building the movement, whores are quarrelling like little kids) [Tvoi karti biti 2008]. We used it to describe those who sell their ideals, friends and beliefs to follow the trend. We also believed it could be applied to persons of any gender and didn’t mean anything degrading towards people of any sex.
To elaborate: by using such a word we in no way criticized people who choose or are forced into the sex industry. Sex slavery is a terrible blight of many cultures and societies today, and some of the members of MDB have worked with charities that help rehabilitate victims of sex slavery around the world, such as FreeTheGirls.com in the US. We also believe that individuals who willingly work as sex workers have a right to choose what to do with their bodies and should not be judged for exercising their freedom.
As both members of Antifascist community and human beings we support the movements towards women rights and equality and welcome the progress of gender balance within our scene and other communities. We respect female members of our movement as activists, fighters, supporters or whoever they choose to be.
5. Patriotism, Russians Against Fascism
Since early 90’s patriotism has been the most popular trend used by Nazis, which granted them support of the state media, society and authorities. Antifa however has been outnumbered and from the day of its inception labeled as “drug addicts and dangerous extremists sponsored by the “Secret World Government””. The police did nothing to stop attacks on Antifa shows, events and activists, but instead created a special department - Centre E (Center for Anti-Extremism), whose officers would arrest, beat, torture and jail anybody suspected of being a member of the Antifa movement or just Antifa music scene. All the while the society often supported Nazi attacks on minorities and activists.
At the same time young people were more eagerly joining the ranks of White Power skinhead gangs and ultra-nationalist football firms than dramatically outnumbered Antifascist movement.
At some point we decided to turn the situation around and pull a risky trick: take the patriotism away from Nazis, put our own meaning into it and use it against them. We started to use patriotic rhetoric trying to explain people that Russia was a multinational country, a home to peoples of various ethnic origins, religions. In our words patriotism was not about hating foreigners and loving the state and the government, but the appreciation for one’s roots and culture. And for many Russians those roots include Multiculturalism and victory over Hitler. Thus we managed to create a positive image of an Antifascist, and show Neo-Nazis as the real enemies of Russian society and culture.
“Russians against fascism” was a part of a strategy described above and also our answer to the popular Nazi slogan “Russia is for Russians”. The demonstration and the performance of Moscow Death Brigade under “Russians against fascism” name was held on November 4, 2009. This date is traditionally used by the Nazis to hold the so called “Russian March” - a mass procession (up to 25 000 people), which gathers representatives of the major White Power and nationalist parties and organizations. The idea was to spit in the face of Neo Nazis and deprive them of their ability to spread their propaganda of hate on behalf of people who identify themselves as Russian.
“Это я русский - ты нацистская шлюха” (I’m Russian and you are a Nazi whore) from MDB/WWF song “Till The End”(2009) - was a reply to a slogan “Я русский” (I’m Russian) used as a print on t-shirts, flags, banners and tattoos, which was extremely popular with Neo Nazis. The idea was to mock the Nazis and express the message: “Look, I’m Russian and I’m Antifascist who stands for equality and against prejudices while you are just a Nazi scum”. As we said before we didn’t put a sexist meaning into the word “whore”. Today we admit it would be much less questionable to use another word however we are proud to say that this phrase became a trend and is still being used even by people distant from Antifa movement to make fun of Neo Nazis. We also haven’t seen people in “I’m Russian” merch for a long time.
Today we believe that this whole tactic was a stretch and we received a lot of criticism from the far-left wing (while many left-wing activists supported us), but we believe it to be successful as it allowed the Antifascist movement in general to turn the public opinion in its favor, attract more people to the cause and leave Neo Nazis without one of their main propaganda weapons. We believe that through that we have made our contribution to the situation today, when the Neo-Nazi trend has gone down, the number of hate-crimes including attacks and murders has declined dramatically and the society as a whole became more tolerant.
In general, especially with the current situation in Ukraine, we’ve come to realize that playing with patriotism and national identity can be very dangerous. To show this we (WWF and MDB) and many others have put together, signed and published a manifesto against the war in Ukraine (against supporting any side of the conflict). We are proud to say that the manifesto was supported by many bands, groups and individuals in Russia, which demonstrates the positive change at least in the scene.
We’ll finish this part by reminding the reader that our bands have criticized the state, army and the police from the early days - a pretty strange move for the alleged “nationalists”.
“Ты герой, за страну горой - патриот, льешь потоки молодой крови в свой рабочий телерот, Родины оплот - крепче скипетр держи, гордый взор свет камера мотор, ну ка расскажи Как брызгать пафосом с экрана и проворонить террористов, Как забыть в Чечне солдат и самому остаться чистым, Как плевать в лицо героям, что спасли нас от фашистов,Превращать людей в казармах в психов, калек и садистов.”
“You are a “hero”, “you stand for your country”, a “patriot”, Pouring rivers of young blood into your TV-mouth,“Defender of the motherland” - hold the scepter tighter,Have a proud look on your face, “light. camera, action!” so tell us: How to spread cheesy lies off a TV screen, While being unprepared for terrorist attacks How to forget soldiers in Chechnya and walk away with clean hands How to spit in the faces of real heroes who saved us from fascism, How to turn people in bootcamps into psychos, cripples and sadists. [Army song]”
“your life is controlled by the state” [Prove them Wrong, MDB]
“слепого поклоненья поколение на коленях? герои на экране ты останешься их тенью”
“A generation of blind followers, Heroes are on your screen, you will remain as their shadow” [Heroes, MDB]
“Пророков много, каждый знает врага, укажет он дорогу, глас рога, зовущего на смертный бой, тот, кто наживется на смерти, смеется над тобой.”
“So many prophets and every one of them will show you the way towards your enemy, the sound of the warhorn calls you to battle, those who profit off your death are laughing in your face” [Truth, MDB]
“От цинковых гробов Афгана до Норд Оста и Беслана, Первая чеченская. потом вторая, как ни странно, Все объяснят с экрана, держи шире карманы”
“From the caskets of the Afghanistan campaign to Nord Ost and Beslan, First and second Chechen campaigns. It’s hard to believe But they can explain everything from the screen, just remain gullible and naive.” [Till The End (WWF feat. MDB)]]
“Feelings suppressed by a less important message
In the age of controlled information
Degeneration of generations
Schemes instigate the clash of the nations” [Viking’s Life, MDB]
“You are born to be on knees,
You must live according to stated scheme,
They line in an endless stream,
But we will struggle, till our hearts are beating.”
We can become the real force,
To provide the alternative to the system,
But how far will you go this time?
Will you see the revolution?” [Deflection from the scheme, WWF]
“Has fascism already become a norm? Did YOU forget, what millions of people died for? Do not dissemble the problem of nazism, Do not believe in all these ravings.” GOOD NIGHT WHITE PRIDE! [Good Night White Pride]
“For those who breaks noses of scumbags inked with swastikas” [Cards, MDB]
Frank Castle Gonna Break Your Neck - a thrashcore band some of MDB members including Vova played in, had a song “Fuck Your Flag” - attacking blind patriotism and worshipping of the flag.
First of all MDB and WWF have a multi-ethnic line-up, including Jews, Russians, Ukrainians, Tatars, people from Christian, Jewish and Muslim families.
We’ve never concealed the fact that we were strictly against all types of racism - be it white, black or any other, and we still stand behind those ideals. We also admitted that in Russia there were lots of ethnic conflicts and ultra-nationalist groups representing different nationalities. While the Nazis always tried to tell that Antifa stood against Russian people, we explained that Antifa stood against nationalists and racists of all types and of all origins.
The translation of the quote by Vova in which he presumably used the word “cattle” is incorrect - done in such a way as to give the quote a completely different meaning than how it sounds in Russian.
“Быдло” (Bydlo) is properly used as "bully", “aggressive person” "thug" and has no racial specification. What we said was that we equally condemned racism whether it came from White Power thugs who claimed that Russians were superior, or extreme nationalists and religious radicals in Southern Republics who claimed their people were superior. The quote translates as follows: “There is no difference to us between a clown shouting “Sieg Heil” or a thug from the mountains yelling “Caucasus is above us, Russia is beneath us (a popular slogan of nationalists from Southern Republics)”.
We understand that at first glance and taken out of context the word combination “from the mountains” can be perceived as offensive or derogatory, however in Russia people from Southern Republics oftentimes identify themselves as “gorci” - which means “highlanders” or “people from the mountains”. It’s a term that is not racially charged or have any negative connotation.
If the interview was conducted today we wouldn’t have used such vocabulary to avoid any misunderstanding. However we still stand by our opinion that racism of any type is wrong despite who it’s coming from. Denying this is denying the whole meaning of anti-racism and equality.
Needless to say that we have no prejudice against any ethnic or national groups. We have many friends from the Caucasus and Central Asia: Armenia, Uzbekistan, Bashkortostan Kazakhstan, Georgia, republics of Chechnya, Tatarstan and others.
7. Masculinity, cult of violence and machismo
One of the allegations in the article is that our bands promote violence and are based around the “cult of masculinity” and “machismo”.
First of all - in our view stereotyping people based on how they look, their love for sports and martial arts is plain bigotry. Not all people dressed in sports jackets and combat boots are violent, aggressive, “macho” thugs, just the same as a small framed individual dressed in non-subcultural attire should not be considered a “nerd, “weak” or unable to fight. Generalizations such as this are one of the things we are fighting against and in our eye should not be expressed by the members of the Western European Antifascist scene.
Second - the violent nature of many members of our community came to be from the constant necessity to fight and defend themselves and people close to them. That aggression has been channeled specifically against representatives of Right Wing movements, who at the same time presented a major threat.
Third - women have been an integral part of Russian Antifa movement in the most crucial of times. Whether militant members who fought side by side with their male comrades, or activists involved in the scene, its development and growth. While we are not going to name anyone to protect the identities of these women, those who were involved with Antifa in Russia would have first hand knowledge of those people’s deeds.
Saying that our bands and our supporters created a cesspool (sammelbecken) of violent men shows that either the author and their sources twisted the facts to better support their agenda or they have a vague knowledge of the subject. Just as women have always been a big part of Russian Antifa community a lot of women in that community supported our bands. We’ve always welcomed women at our shows and events and there have always been women who wanted to join our cause, support our bands, go to our shows, work and fight along our side. Our activity, our shows, charity and social events wouldn’t have been possible without the involvement of female members of the Antifa.
In our songs we always promote education, hard work and martial arts training. We believed and continue to believe that in the environment in which we live, where social support and financial aid are almost non-existent - improving yourself both mentally and physically is crucial for our community to survive the pressure of the system.
It is not a secret that conflicts between militant activists and non-violent activists took place within our scene and our bands have historically emphasized the importance of militants and took their side. However it shouldn’t be perceived as our discrimination of activists who approach many issues from the intellectual standpoint. At that moment militant Antifa were the only people, who would risk their lives to physically protect the scene and minorities from Neo Nazis. When a mob of White Power “activists” armed with knives, knuckledusters, handguns and hammers are marching towards an event organized by Antifa or a group of minorities, no amount of discussions and debates is going to stop them from killing or crippling those they hate. They could only be stopped with physical force, by people who were ready to fight, and face the risk of being beaten, killed or arrested.
The issue of inner-scene conflicts between militants and non-violent activists is commonplace within the Antifacist communities of many countries and we believe that a dialog between the two groups must be created as both are crucial for the movement and its development.
8. Must be Communist or Anarchist
The authors blame us for Vova’s words (in a 5 year old interview) that “we don’t call ourselves communists or anarchists” but we don’t see any issues with what he said. As people born in the USSR we have no illusions about the Soviet past. We know that for many people communism means the horrors of concentration camps, repressions, government control, Anti Semitic campaigns, invasions of Poland and Czechoslovakia.
At the same time note that in the same interview when Vova said that he didn’t share all of the ideas of communism and anarchism he did support some of them. He also said that we had worked together with anarchists, communists, Rash, Sharp etc because we all had the same goal - unity and struggle against propaganda of hate and inequality. We can’t understand why it is necessary to be labeled as a Communist or an Anarchist to be part of the Antifascist movement. Moreover we believe that many people, especially in Russia, got scared away from the movement because they share the Antifascist and Antiracist ideas but don’t want to be branded as a member of a political party.
It must be mentioned that since not labeling themselves anarchists What We Feel and Razor Bois took part in benefit shows and compilations in support of Anarchist Black Cross and worked together with other left-wing collectives.
Here are some of them:
- Razor Bois and WWF on “Destroying Prisons” compilation in support of ABC Moscow
- Show organized by Razor Bois and RASH NYC in support of ABC Moscow which collected money for Antifa activist critically wounded while defending Gay Pride event from Neo-Nazi attack
- WWF Benefit tour for ABC Russia
The quotes from the interview with 210 in their interpreted form are absolutely inappropriate. However they were taken from an interview which was removed shortly after publication - according to 210, because of a wrong interpretation of the answers by the interviewer.
Just so the reader understands the situation a little better we’d like to provide a little background on the members of 210. Most of these guys come from the working class, work at the factories and grew up in some of the worst neighbourhoods. They are simple people who didn’t have the luxury of government sponsored education or financial aid provided by the state. They learned to survive on the violent and unforgiving streets of Moscow in the 90’s and early 00’s. And despite the brutality and intolerance of the environment in which they grew up they have been on the forefront of fighting against the blight of Neo Nazis, while most young people in their situation turned to the Ultra Right communities or remained unaffiliated.
Members of 210 have often risked their lives and well-being guarding Antifascist shows and events, putting themselves between the White Power hooligans or cops and Antifa activists or minorities. Our guess is that nobody in Russian DIY and Antifascist scene - even our most fierce critics - would deny the role of 210 guys in militant Antifascist action. For their involvement in the violent conflict their photos have been widely distributed online by Neo Nazis accompanied by death threats. Before a show with The Oppressed in Moscow in 2013 (mentioned in the article) the club owners and promoters received multiple threats from Nazis and right-wing football hooligans, promising to launch a violent attack on the show. 210 were the first people who arrived at the club to face the attackers.
Actions speak louder than words, but still, when we found out about the inappropriate statements of the band we had a choice: to sever any relations with them or call them out for a conversation and understand whether they meant it or not. We believe that problems like that must be solved in an open conversation but not through anonymous one-way accusation. Last year we organized a meeting with 210 and discussed their position with them, explaining that if they indeed had the ideas expressed in the interview it would not be tolerated. The band said they admitted their mistakes of miscommunicating their beliefs and were ready to work on their ability to express their ideas without a chance for misinterpretation. We are convinced that actions of these people have saved many lives in the past and helped bring forth the recent downfall of active Neo Nazi movement in Russia. And we believe they deserve a chance. Again, the development of any person is a gradual process. We believe that these guys can become fruitful members of the worldwide scene if given this chance.
10. Street Influence
Street Influence was a label originally founded by Fyodor Filatov - one of the informal leaders of Moscow Antifascist skinheads, murdered by Neo Nazis. After his death his friends continued releasing records by the label, while all the profits were channelled to Fyodor’s family. That’s why WWF released records on Street Influence - EP and a split with Stage Bottles (the latter was released by SI and Mad Butcher) in October 2013. The label also released some merch and a benefit limited edition of WWF t-shirts with a picture of Ivan Khutorskoi as a central element of design (https://linksunten.indymedia.org/de/node/135032), sending all profits to the family of Ivan Khutorskoy.
The label also released a tribute to What We Feel, again sending all profits to Ivan Khutorskoi’s family.
There was no “business” relations between the band and the label, nobody made any money. In October 2014 WWF stopped working with Street Influence after finding out that the label had started to release records and organizing shows for bands whose political attitude was inappropriate for us. Since that moment there were no relations between the band and the label, while SI still may sell some leftover merch, vinyl and CDs.
We tried but still can not find any connection of the said artist Abu and WWF or any other of our bands and we have absolutely no idea why the authors of the article pay so much attention to him. As we stated before, WWF had stopped working with Street Influence. Abu didn’t make art for WWF, MDB or their friends. We have never met him or worked with him. Actually we didn’t have much information about him before reading the article.
Still we decided to conduct our own investigation. What we found out was that, Abu had made one art cover for Zapoy/Rude Riot split (listed in accusation article) released by MLM, a sub-label of Street Influence, when he was known to everybody as SHARP and a member of Antifascist supporters of MTZ-RIPO (football club from Minsk, Belarus). It happened before his known cooperation with RAC and apolitical bands.
To us it looks like this character with his obvious connection to RAC and apolitical scene was put into the article for a dramatic effect, while he actually has absolutely no connection to our bands.
Speaking of the term “apolitical position” in relation to us: all of our bands, including MDB, WWF, Razor Bois, have always spoken out loud against those collaborating with Nazis and Right-wingers.
The label created in mid 00’s by members of Razor Bois and MDB was named “Boycott the Fencewalkers!”. One of its first releases was the international benefit compilation “Planet Of Friends” released to raise money for a person of African descent, who had been viciously attacked by Neo Nazis in Moscow and had received serious trauma.
Razor Bois has a song against fencewalkers “Don’t walk the fence, walk the plank”:
“They are just your old buddies, well I heard that old shit, Tell your tales to the parents of those murdered kids, Don’t go to their shows, don’t shake their fucking hands, I don’t know you backstabber, I don’t need such friends.”
WWF has a song “Apolitical Scum”:
“What a "beautiful word" you have thought up
For the justification your own cowardice OK, but actually it's safe for you To be far away from problems with nazis”
MDB has a song “Cut Off Your Tongue”:
“Fuck the two faced scum, fuck the fencewalkers
Snitches got stitches and talkers got walkers”
While the authors keep accusing us of using “Antifa label” to ”sell ourselves to the tolerant West” let’s take a closer look at the activities of our bands. Most of both MDB and WWF tours and shows have been benefits. For example the latest two - in May and September 2014 were organized as charity events for the family of Ivan Khutorskoi - Russian Antifascist murdered by Neo-Nazis. Due to the lack of proper government support for the senior citizens in Russia, Ivan’s mother and grandmother were left with hardly any means of survival after losing their son/grandson. In 2014 MDB and WWF raised more than 8000 Euro combined for Ivan’s relatives and other people in need, including families of other victims of Neo Nazi terror.
Video report about WWF/MDB benefit tour in May 2014 and a visit to Ivan’s family: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5uh0dEmI48
Some part of the profits from shows and merchandise goes to pay for tour expenses such as tickets, renting vans and PA and sometimes for bands’ needs such as recording music. All of us work full-time jobs, we don’t live off our music and we are all friends - not “business partners” as the authors keep repeating throughout the article. We have to work really hard to make every tour happen, because Russian salaries can not be compared to , for example, German ones and every trip to Europe is an expensive and risky endeavor (especially since obtaining the Schengen Visa is sometimes a challenging process for Russian citizens).
As we love making music it would be great if we could earn a living by doing so, which would also allow us to dedicate more time to our bands and community (instead of working elsewhere) but so far we don’t make enough to both support the causes that we believe in and support ourselves financially. We don’t use our beliefs to make money, but instead strive to make high quality music, which gives us an opportunity to spread our message, attract more and more people to our cause and support various charities.
By the way we saw that countless European and in particular German bands, labels and distros sell their merch items including those with Antifascist symbols (which we almost don’t have). So we are eager to learn why we are not allowed to sell merch as well and if it is another expression of authors’ elitist views.
To sum up it all up: Russian society is still in the middle of development process and growth. It is still conservative and suffers from many issues, many of which stem from its traumatic history and slow economy resulting from a combination of inner and outer factors. Objectively, it looks like people are slowly becoming more tolerant and advanced in their views, however difficult conditions in which this society exists slow this development. In the end of 80’s and 90’s when a lot of today’s Russian Antifascists grew up, and even 5-7 years ago - the environment in which we lived was not comparable to that of Western Europe.
Russian Antifascist scene is immensely young and immediately upon its inception its members lived in mortal danger from Russian Neo-Nazi movement - one of the strongest and most brutal in the world at that moment. Russian Antifa became the worst enemy of the Neo Nazis, distracting them from attacking minorities and paying a bloody price for that. To physically survive and keep making progress towards stopping the hate-based violence, the movement had to work in two directions: getting enough people capable of physical confrontation with Nazis and spread its message to receive the support of the public. WWF and MDB among other bands became the voice of the movement and played a distinctive role in achieving both goals.
The authors of the accusing article blatantly ignore these cultural, social and historical features, judging the Russian scene and such parts of it as MDB and WWF by the standards of a modern German Scene, which development started decades earlier. We witnessed the same approach not only to our scene but also to the scenes of other countries with the cultural climate different from the Western European one - such as those in the Middle East, Southern Republics of Russian Federation etc. We find this approach Eurocentristic.
It also must be mentioned that the authors of the article used inappropriate and unfair tactics: the anonymity of the authors within the community, incorrect translation (using the simplified Google Translate version “cattle” instead of proper “thug” or “bully” despite supposedly having Russian-speaking friends involved), possibly intended distortion of facts (connection of WWF and Abu, Gryundik being an ex-WWF member), using the 5-year old interview and the quotes taken out of context, lack of a Russian (or at least an English) translation as well as the timing of the publishing coinciding with our international tour. These issues put credibility and goodwill of the entire article in question.
We admit that from the point of view of a modern scene some of the vocabulary used by us in interviews (which are 5-8 years old) seems questionable. But we want to assure the readers that we didn’t put any sexist, homophobic or racist meaning into them as we have explained above. A lot of times we were using the language of the streets we came from and were not trying to insult anybody but our enemies. Anyway, if those interviews were conducted today we wouldn’t have used such vocabulary to avoid any misunderstanding. We’re against any forms of prejudice - something that we have expressed through our music from the very first years of our activity.
We’re always open to dialogue and we have discussed issues like that with active members of Antifascist movement like the representatives of RASH Potsdam, explaining our point of view with arguments that everyone found to be valid.
Considering all the facts above we see the article as a defamation of our bands and Russian militant Antifascist scene in general and assume that it is dictated by personal hostility. It also seems like an attempt to dictate its will to the developing scenes without considering local social and cultural conditions. We see it as an expression of elitism and Western Imperialism and will not tolerate such an approach. We are ready for the development of our bands and scene and are grateful for any healthy criticism. But we need friends, not people who feel superior to us.
We will be happy to continue the discussion on this with the authors of the article and all interested persons during our meeting at Kopi, Berlin at 20:00 (8pm) local time on Friday, February 20th (the time and place have been posted by Kopi in the comment section of the original article on February 17th).
We are grateful to everybody who supports us!
Moscow Death Brigade, What We Feel