Viral Ukranian band Beton appear to have unsettling links to fascist iconography.
The group's take on 'London Calling' by The Clash went viral over the weekend, with 'Kyiv Calling' gaining global support.
Billy Bragg initially seemed pleased by the cover version, and expressed his support – before fans on the ground in Ukraine called his attention to some troubling links.
In a new post, Billy Bragg explains that he discovered a photograph depicting "members of the band wearing t-shirts based on the Ramones circular logo. The word 'Ramones' at the top of the logo had been replaced with the word 'Banderas' and although all of the names within the circle were not visible, the one that was clearly read 'Stepan'. The photos dated from a year ago."
The English songwriter continues: "This is deeply troubling. Stepan Bandera was a far-right Ukranian politician who collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation of Ukraine and whose followers were complicit in the Holocaust. That he did these things in the name of Ukranian independence from the Soviet Union has led some present day far right nationalists to adopt his image in their decade long struggle with Russia."
"The knock on effect of this has been to allow Putin to smear all those who want a democratic Ukraine free from Russian influence as neo-nazis. The lionisation of Bandera explains his attempt to legitimize the invasion as a campaign of 'denazification', despite the fact that when, during the 2019 Ukrainian elections, all of the major far right Ukrainian parties formed a unified party for the national election, they gained just 2.15% of the vote and failed to secure a single seat in the national parliament. Compare that with the 2009 EU parliament election, where the BNP won 6% of the vote."
Billy Bragg attempted to communicate with Beton, but was rebuffed. He writes: "I left a message on the band's Facebook page asking them to explain why they were wearing t-shirts that appeared to support Bandera, but after 24 hours, I've had no response, so I've deleted my post."
"We can argue about the meaning of 'London Calling' and what Joe Strummer would or wouldn't have said about the lyrical changes, but we can be damn sure that he would not have allowed his song to be utilised by a band that expressed their support for fascists."
The post can be found HERE. Beton have offered no comment on the photograph.
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