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“Rise up against Putin!” : the message of a Ukrainian rock star to the Russians

Nothing can take away his smile, not even the mention of the war that is ravaging his country, attacked by Russia. “Yes, we laugh, even in the trenches, under the snow, and we sing too!” launches Andriy Khlyvnyuk, the charismatic leader of the Ukrainian rock group Boombox, who has become a soldier. In this month of December, the singer is on tour in Europe to raise funds, before returning to the front. The big guy in the baseball cap stamped “NYC” does not take off his fatigues – even on stage -, a way of maintaining the link with his brothers in arms.

Star in Ukraine and Russia, Andriy Khlyvnyuk became a world icon on February 27, when he published a video of him in kyiv, on the deserted Sofiyskaya square, singing a cappella a Ukrainian patriotic song, rifle slung over his shoulder. He had just canceled his tour of North America to take up arms and defend his homeland. “It was obvious, he says. When the question is: ‘will my children or my neighbors be able to survive?’, the choice is easy.”

In theaters in Paris, The Hague or Alicante in Spain, his group has been greeted in recent days by a tide of blue and yellow flags and a mostly Ukrainian audience, moved to tears. Andriy Khlyvnyuk shared everything on his Instagram account, followed by almost 200,000 people.

“You have put a monster in power, now you must fight it!”

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“Going on stage today is much more difficult for me than being in Ukraine with my comrades in arms, he confides, seated on a Parisian terrace, with a coffee and a glass of red wine. I meaning more useful in Ukraine. When such a disaster happens, the community comes together. So when you find yourself in peaceful countries like here in France, you feel a bit of a stranger to this world. Knowing that people live normal lives here, only a two-hour flight from Ukraine, immersed in the trenches, mud and blood, it’s disturbing…”

At L’Express, the singer opens up and sends a poignant message to his Russian audience: “Wake up if you don’t want to be judged guilty by history!”

From rock star to drone pilot…

“For 18 years I had a career as a producer and musician-performer. My group, Boombox, is the last to see the Mariupol theater standing, we played the last concert there, a week before the bombing. When the full-scale invasion started, I was about to start my tour of North America, and I didn’t hesitate for a second: I canceled everything to answer the call to arms and join the Ukrainian Defense Forces. I went to get my rifle at the nearest police station and I joined a police patrol. I first participated in the evacuation of populations in war zones, then I was trained in the spring to fly drones.

Since then, I have been an operator of combat drones and image sensor drones. I destroy equipment and personnel of the Russian occupation forces on the front line. For the past three months I have been in the Mikolaiv region. When I return from my tour, I will be sent to Kherson to continue the fight along the Dnieper. But I have to be honest: I’m not a real soldier. I rent an apartment not far from the front line, and my work is comparable to that of the criminal police. We analyze the images and other data a lot to decipher the enemy’s strategy and be one step ahead; then we carry out our strikes and we go home. It has nothing to do with the experience of infantry soldiers, who fought in the trenches like in the First or Second World War.

Letter to his Russian fans

“To the Russians who listened to me by the thousands before the war, I have a word to say to you: yesterday, I was part of your youth, of your laughter, of your heart stories thanks to my love songs, and here it is that you no longer believe a word of what I say and only listen to the murderous propaganda broadcast on your television sets? You have put a monster in power, now you must fight it! Because this war is not only the problem of the Ukrainians. It is first of all that of the Russians. You will be judged guilty in the face of history, because you pay the taxes to finance the army which invaded and killed us. Do you think that you are liberating the Ukraine? But no, you are on our minds!

A normally constituted person will understand that I am neither a racist nor a Nazi. I’m just a human being, I respect all countries except when a nation tries to eliminate my children. So I say to you: Wake up! Otherwise you will forever be prisoners of a Soviet-style system, trapped behind a new iron curtain. And you will be criminals in the eyes of all mankind for what you have done, like the Germans after World War II. If you don’t want to be, then stand up against Putin! Change the rules of tyranny in Russia.”

The appeal to Westerners

“I understand that the West is afraid. You have no desire to send your men to the front to participate directly in this war. But whether you like it or not, you are already in World War III. Ukraine is in the same situation as Czechoslovakia and Poland in World War 2. If you don’t want war to come to your doorstep in France, the United Kingdom or America, help us close the skies to the Russian missiles! You can do it without putting a single one of your men in the Ukraine.

NATO has the ability to hit targets high in the sky and eliminate rockets and missiles. Sooner or later, you will have to intervene. The war in Europe started 8 years ago, in 2014. Make no mistake, this is not a war between Russia and Ukraine. It is a war between the last century and the modern world, between the law of the strongest and weapons, and respect for human rights. You don’t want it? It is already too late.”

“This war will change not only Ukrainian society, but the whole world. We will rebuild everything we have lost, we will forget the past once and for all and we will cherish our independence. Because independence and freedom are not free, we are fighting to win them. Our fight for independence is our ticket to “the normal world”. We will fight to win back all our territory recognized by the United Nations, including Crimea. It is the possible road to peace. In the meantime, I keep writing songs. Love songs. What else? Love is the only sane thing you can write about. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a song. , but a hymn”.


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