Ukraine is marking 31 years of independence from the Soviet Union by organising a huge rave in Lithuania, because it cannot hold an event in Kyiv.
On Wednesday, which marks the day Ukraine’s parliament declared the country independent from the Soviet Union in 1991 – and six months since Russia invaded – some of the country’s biggest DJs will perform at the event being held in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital.
The free outdoor rave to be held in the city centre by the river Neris has the backing of Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s Minister for Culture. Many of the 61,800 Ukrainian refugees who have so far fled to Lithuania ended up in Vilnius, are expected to see the show, alongside some of the 15,000 Ukrainians who already live and work in Lithuania.
Oleksandr Sanchenko, a Ukrainian MP who helped set up the event and is head of the youth wing of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s party, told VICE World News: “Ukrainian Independence Day is especially important and symbolic to celebrate in such difficult and challenging times. But since organising it here in Ukraine is not an option, we started looking for an alternative location in Eastern Europe. And we’re blessed to have a lot of friends and supporters in Lithuania, who agreed to help us with this. Vilnius, as the capital of Lithuania, is the most obvious choice.”
The event, which will raise money for humanitarian aid in Ukraine through voluntary donations and be funded by the city of Vilnius, will feature top Ukrainian DJs ARTBAT, Miss Monique and 8kays who are travelling to Vilnius to perform.
“Rave is a synonym for youth, as we see it. We want to celebrate our Independence Day in modern fashion and to make it especially exciting for the people that will attend it,” said Sanchenko. Last month young Ukrainians held a ‘clean-up rave’, clearing out bombed buildings in the north of the country while listening to techno.
Co-organiser Mark Adam Harold, chair of the Night Economy Association of Lithuania, said: “Lithuania has been the number one friend of Ukraine for many years and Vilnius is the capital, so I’m proud to make this event here. Vilnius is also temporarily home to many Ukrainians who have been forced out of their own homes. We are inviting them all to come and dance with us.”
In March, Vilnius’s mayor Remigijus Šimašius, who is supporting the rave, commissioned a graffiti artist to paint an anti-Putin message on a bridge outside the city’s Russian embassy which said: ‘Putin, The Hague is waiting for you’. Šimašius told VICE World News at the time: “I had an idea that the best place to remind Putin that his path will end in the Hague International Criminal Court is a street near the Russian Embassy in Vilnius. I hope that the Russian Ambassador in Lithuania and the embassy’s employees will feel ashamed every morning going to work.”
On Saturday President Zelenskyy warned Ukrainians to expect “vicious” attacks from Russian forces around independence day. In Kyiv, due to the wartime curfew, authorities will mark Independence Day by lining the usual procession route with burned out and seized Russian tanks.
“Ukrainian people are struggling for their independence and freedom, so it’s extremely important to support them whatever it takes,” said ARTBAT. “Vilnius is a very beautiful and progressive capital of the country that has been the best friend of Ukraine for quite a while, so it’s going to be especially symbolic for our Independence Day celebration to take place there.”
Miss Monique said: “This event in Vilnius will help not just to collect money for Ukrainians but remind the world that the war is not over. People are still dying and we must to do something together and stop Russia’s terrorism.”
The event will be the climax of a fundraising campaign for Music Saves UA, donations are being accepted from all European countries by 1K Fund, a charity set up by Lithuanian comedian and activist Oleg Surajev. The event is supported and produced by Vilnius Municipality, the Night Economy Association of Lithuania and the Ukrainian Association of Music Events.