Gov’t Forms Body to Monitor Kazantip Organizers

PREAH SIHANOUK PROVINCE – Provincial authorities here are closely monitoring the movements of the Ka­zantip festival’s organizers to ensure that no replica parties are in the pipeline after the cancellation of the famously debauched rave earlier this week.

Deputy provincial governor Chhin Seng Ngoun said that local authorities had assigned both police and military police to keep an eye on the organizers of the raucous 10-day event, which had been slated to begin on Wednesday on Koh Puos island off the coast of Sihanoukville. 

Kazantip veteran Andrey Slarilok sits on a bank near the bridge to Koh Puos island in Sihanoukville on Thursday. (Joe Hofmann)
Kazantip veteran Andrey Slarilok sits on a bank near the bridge to Koh Puos island in Sihanoukville on Thursday. (Joe Hofmann)

“We formed this working group to monitor them. Any activities they want to do in the province we will know about this. If they go to Koh Rong we already have a police post over there,” Mr. Seng Ngoun said on Friday.

Although Mr. Seng Ngoun did not name the organizers who were being monitored, the driving force behind the festival is Russian national Nikita Marshunok, who refers to himself as the “prezident” of the “Kazantip Republic.”

Neither Mr. Marshunok nor the festival’s “head of the prezidential administration,” Daria Lihovitska­ya, could be reached for comment.

A group of defiant would-be festivalgoers sat down Thursday near the barricades blocking the road to the island where the party had been due to start the day before. They were dressed in Kazantip attire and carrying yellow Kazantip-branded suitcases from which techno music was blaring.

Andrey Slarilok, a middle-aged veteran of the festival from Kirov, Russia, declared that the spirit of the rave would continue despite the cancellation on Koh Puos.

“Kazantip is not a place, it is a people,” said Mr. Slarilok over the electronic music emanating from his suitcase.

“I am going to the beach, I have my music, I have my yellow suitcase and I have my friends…. It’s no problem.”

Alexey Wambia, who had traveled from St. Petersburg, was similarly upbeat in light of the cancellation despite declaring his love for the festival, which he had attended in its original location on the Crimean peninsula. He described it as “like nothing else in the world.”

“I don’t know what will happen but a lot of people come here so I will find more friends. I will be taken by the spirit,” he said.

Despite the effort to quash Kazantip, advertisements appeared on the barricade to Koh Puos on Thursday touting an apparently unrelated party called the “Dragon Project” to be held that night on Koh Rong island. A local travel agent selling boat tickets to Koh Rong said sales were so high due to the presence of frustrated Kazantip festivalgoers that his company added extra trips to deal with the high demand.

At about 12 a.m. on Thursday, groups began to meander through the woods of Koh Rong to the isolated “Police Beach,” searching for the promised rave. By 3 a.m., hundreds of Kazantip faithful and backpackers were dancing to house and techno music, despite the onset of a torrential rain shower.

Luke Tauras, an Australian who spent $5,000 on flights, tickets and accommodation to attend the rave, said that although the Koh Rong party had cushioned the blow of the Kazantip cancellation, he was still angry at local authorities, whom he accused of hypocrisy.

“We came over here after we heard about the cancellation. If it’s not on by this weekend, I’m off…. It’s clear the right people haven’t been bribed,” Mr. Tauras said.

“Look at what goes on in this town…the prostitution, the underage girls and they’re banning this?” he added.

He also said he was frustrated at the lack of clarity provided by the Kazantip organizers in recent days, particularly Mr. Marshunok.

“The owner hasn’t released one statement. Nobody knows what’s going on. It’s a joke. We spent $5,000 to get here and it’s so disrespectful. This will be the end of Kazantip,” he said.

Efe Keskinler, a Turkish reveler dancing in the torrential rain, also said he was deeply disappointed by the cancellation.

“But still nothing will stop us,” he added. “Just look around you.”

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