Vitaliy Ovcharenko is one of the so-called "ultras" of Donetsk "Shakhtar" football club, a civic activist, a fighter of volunteer battalion, a voluntary servant, and a journalist. In the interview with the journalist of ONLINE.UA Yaroslav Grebenyuk, Vitaliy spoke about "rumbles" between ultras, early political career of Pavel Gubarev, calculation of uniformed “green men” without insignia in the Crimea and the first deadly clashes with separatists in Donetsk with that the war began in 2014.
"Ukrainian ultras do not hate the fans of other football teams"
- I became an ultras team member in 2005 when I was a first-year student. A now well-known Ukrainian journalist took me to the stadium for the first time. Then he has ceased that business, and I continued to root in the most active "sector", since then here we go.
At that time you can not say yet that our "sector" was pro-Ukrainian, but the fact that it was so "essentially right" is undoubtedly. I've acquired new friends and comrades. Everyone knows that fandom is not limited by rooting for your team during a match, sometimes it results in the fight outside of stadiums.
- How much a life of fans in Ukraine is similar to that we have seen in the films "About Football", "Football Factory"?
- In Ukraine, all this has a slightly different format. We do not hate fans of other teams. And so it was, too, before the war. For example, fans of Kiev "Dynamo" and "Shakhtar" after the fight helped each other get up and thanked. It was a kind of sport.
- As previously in the villages young people came out to "warm up", to fight on ice?
- Yes. And if someone is seriously hurt in a "rumble", not only countrymen but also opposing side helped him, raise money for the treatment.
- Were fights only barefisted? Did it stipulated that you can not use auxiliary means?
- Of course. Auxiliary means were strictly forbidden. It was considered a sign of weakness if someone suddenly decided to use additional means. You could got asshanded from his comrades for that because if you are strong prove it in a fair fight. I had got hot in my first fight, and it was a "milestone event" in my life because after that I got seriously engaged in Thai boxing.
The backbone of our partnership has formed in nearly eight years and our relations were not interrupted after the war began; we all have been scattered in different cities but we kept together, and fitted out those who went to war. I may just go on business, for example, in Dnipropetrovsk, and live there as I need. And comrades just may come to me, in Kiev.
That's how we rooted, trained, went to away fights, and this became evident in 2010 that our "sector" became more and more pro-Ukrainian.
"Ultras of "Shakhtar" did not fight with ultras of Western Ukraine clubs in principle
- I was not actively followed for football. Tell us, please, more about it. Since the end of 2000 the news reached us on ultras of Luhansk "Zarya": they sing Banderovite songs, use the Ukrainian language in graffiti, and in symbols. But it's all Russian-speaking Donbass guys conditioned by the values of the Communist Party and the Party of Regions. It was interesting how it all came to the "Far East" in Ukraine?
- I think there were several factors. First, it is dependent on our mobility. We went to Uzhgorod, Ternopil, Lviv, and see that those stereotypes by that the residents of Donbass have been fed are unfounded, they are irrelevant. We were greeted everywhere as brothers.
- Did you fought with Lviv residents?
- No, fans of "Shakhtar" in principle did not fight during trips to Western Ukraine. It should be understood that "Shakhtar" is in a coalition with Odessa "Chernomorets" and Poltava "Vorskla". And "Karpaty" (Lvov) is in a coalition with Kiev "Dynamo" and "Dnipro" from Dnipropetrovsk. There are two such opposing sides. Despite this, the ultras of "Karpaty" and "Shakhtar" agreed to a neutrality that politicians could not take advantage of our skirmishes for their own purposes. And when rooters from Lviv came to the matches in Donetsk we took them to live in our homes showing the city and even accompanied them to avoid conflicts with the local heavies. And when we visited them they drove us around the city showing the famous bar "Kriїvka", and other popular taverns.
The match of "Shakhtar"
So, the pro-Ukrainian factors were travels, friendship with "Karpaty" and the common stimulus. In Donetsk, ther was still an underground pro-Russian movement, and Pasha Gubarev (at the beginning of separatist actions in Donetsk in 2014 he was the so-called "people's governor" of Donetsk region, a participant of captures of administrative buildings and one of the leaders of the militants - ONLINE.UA) was its typical representative. I continue to insist on that a youth of Donetsk adhered to the pro-Ukrainian positions. What the pro-Russian movement was engaged in? They came together at the fountain in the Shcherbakova park and preying on those who wears Ukrainian symbols. There were conflicts, fights with the fans as well. Since 2002, they have had such meetings "near the fountain", even pasted the posters: "Every Sunday at 14.00 there will be meeting in the Shcherbakova park". Gubarev then withdrawn from this, but I was told in 2006 that he took part in this movement.
Pasha has not been there in my presence; there were only some marginal residues. Near 2008, the pro-Ukrainian commotion has strengthened, and we finally ousted "rag tags" (pro-Russian nationalists).
Of course, the supporters of Russia could be in the "sector", it was not so important at that time. You could come with the symbols of Serb nationalists, we quietly talking with them trying to get along, although the "sector" was officially considered as Ukrainian. "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!" But the Russian "tricolor" could not be present on the matches a priori.
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