Why you should care

Political strife need not ruin the party, as organizers and “citizens” of Eastern Europe’s largest rave have discovered. Goodbye, Crimea. 

You go to Kazantip for the debauchery — the drugs and freaky sex — or for the camp, for here there are more ’90s rave stereotypes than you can shake a stick at. Kazantip is a republic without shame.

Actually, it’s a 10-day, Eastern European rave, but the organizers insist that it’s its own country. It has visas, officials, a constitution and a criminal code, the last item of which bans “[s]exual harassment and caddish behavior toward citizens … no matter how easy to get they look.”

The Kazantip Republic exists only for 10 days a year, every year since 1992, when people began to descend upon a tiny Crimean village beside a disused Soviet power station to listen to never-ending EDM, get dangerously sunburned and sleep in rooms of up to 10 people. Last year, some 100,000 people showed up from all over the world, especially from Russia and the former Eastern bloc.

…generally, there is no difference between nations or languages when it comes to party.

Things changed this year. In March, Russia annexed Crimea, and all manner of violence has been meted out on the populace. At first, Kazantip’s president, Nikita Marshunok, insisted the show would go nowhere else, but just over a month later, Marshunok was packing up the glow sticks — Kazantip was clearing out.

Now the madness will take place in Anaklia, a Black Sea resort in the Caucasian state of Georgia. It’s slated for Aug. 20–30. That’s assuming the Georgian Church does not succeed in booting it out. Meanwhile, word to would-be Kazantip-ites: Kazantip.com is a fake website, the organizers say. Book at Kazantipa.net instead.

Moving a country for 100,000 people in a little over three months is no mean feat. Here Kazantip’s prime minister, a wiry, thistle-haired DJ called Artem Harchenko, offers some valuable urban-planning advice. We spoke to him on Skype.

This interview was edited for clarity.

OZY: How difficult has it been to organize this year’s festival?

First of all, we are not really a festival. Kazantip is a small, independent republic. It might be imaginary for the outsiders, but if you ask someone who’s been a “Z-citizen” at least once, it is also quite existent. This year Kazantip Republic is rising to a new level in terms of size and quality, and the team is working hard to satisfy the growing Great Nation.

OZY: When was the decision made to move it from Crimea?

The location in Crimea didn’t offer enough room for future development. Besides that, everyone knows about the hard times in Crimea, the political controversy between Ukraine and Russia. According to Article 1 of our constitution, the republic can freely move to a better place at any time. During May, we received many proposals, and the one from Georgian government looked very suitable and promising.

OZY: Why Georgia?

It is impossible to not fall in love with this country. Maybe we are overimpressed by Georgian hospitality, but this country has achieved noticeable changes in the political system and people’s minds, and this in such a short period. Young Georgians are closer to Europeans. Most are fluent in English. But, generally, there is no difference between nations or languages when it comes to party.

OZY: How important is Kazantip’s totalitarian dictatorship for its sustainability?

Kazantip Republic is an ex-democratic state. There were different experiments in the past, and the republic is already over its democracy.

OZY: One of your mottoes is “life with no pants”…

We’ve never been “madness,” “den of sex” or “debauched.” In reality, the citizens of Kazantip eat, drink, breathe and have sex no less and no more than any other happy people on earth. But bear in mind that the Kazantip Republic has the highest percentage of happy people of all countries in the world.

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