• Andrey Kiselyus

EUGENE RENE: «WE FIGHT FOR OUR COLORS»


“Since I’ve taken up

reenactment,

I stopped going to circus,

the movies and the zoo.”

Dear friends and beloved HMB fans! This time we present you a truly unique material, and this is not a bald statement. Our today’s hero… No, not like this. This hero, whose contribution to our cause is continuous from the very beginning, never aimed for any publicity and his consent for an interview may be considered a sensation on its own. Who is he? Let us say, if the fighters are the blood of our movement, this man, undoubtedly is its heart. About everything else, (I still cannot believe it) he will tell himself. Until recently he has been avoiding any media coverage, and now, when the steel curtain has fallen you will see how difficult for us is to hold back the tide of accumulated questions.

Also, the editorial office finds it curious that the possibility of a detailed conversation with the respondent along with the time devoted to the preparation of the article resulted in its publication right on the date of the founding of the club, which will be described in here in detail, along with the personality of its founder. Is it a coincidence?

So, sit down, relax and start reading. An acquaintance like this cannot be neglected. We give you a truly huge amount of precious information, and strongly recommend to take in from the first to the last line.


Hello, Evgeny! The overwhelming majority of the participants in the global HMB community know who this article is about and understand the importance of such an interview. However, the first question is intended to clarify a little for the rest of the readers who are not so involved in our affairs, the identity of the respondent. Please tell about yourself what you think is possible. How do you yourself determine the position held, or more correctly, the role in the movement of Historical Medieval Battles?

Greetings, honestly about myself? Well, it would probably be the most correct to say this: founder of the "Bern" club and the ideological inspirer of all existing major projects in HMB, co-organizer of the Grand Company (if someone still remembers it) and the "Dynamo Cup" championship. My main job is to organize the organizers. In ordinary life, I am a restaurateur, yachtsman, philanthropist... and a misanthrope.


Let us start with some retrospective. How did your journey in historical reenactment begin?

My journey in reenactment began St. Petersburg. It was 2002, when we came to the movement of historical reenactment, and for us it all started with the club "Knyazheskaya Druzhyna", a division of which at that time was the "Livonian Order", in it's gym we trained under the guidance of Klim Zhukov and Sergey Myasishchev. In general, at that time most of the clubs in St. Petersburg emerged out of the "Knyazheskaya Druzhyna" club, so we can safely say that it was the alma mater of the entire reenactment movement of the region.

So, when you arrived, there were already local leaders, right?

Exactly. I came there as the leader of an informal youth association, which joined an already existing brand. However, in half a year, we came to a decision to develop the path of Swiss infantry. Accordingly, the founding year of club "Bern" was 2002, and since then, with varying, so to speak, success we have been developing.

Where did the desire to recreate the Swiss infantry come from?

There are several aspects here. Firstly, because no one has done this before us. We wanted individuality, to express ourselves, to create some kind of our own recognizable brand. Secondly, in the wake of the confrontation of knights and infantry, we got into the historical camp on the side of the infantry party, it seemed to us that the Swiss infantry is the most badass, and we made every effort to implement this idea with all its attributes and meaning. It is important to understand that Bern was originally a club of historical reenactment, and at the first stage of our activity, up to 2010, we were evolving in this direction.

Can the Swiss military system be taken as a reference of how the infantry should be?

I would say that the organization of the Swiss infantry, which is the progenitor of all modern European armies, can be considered the standard. In regard to selection, training, recruitment. And, of course, for its attitude towards the cause. Also, a special influence on the choice of this direction had the historical fact that Switzerland has never fought with Russia. Many people who came to the club over the years, wanted to engage in the reenactment of Russia, and we told them “Excellent, but first make a Swiss set, then Russian.”. Nobody got to the Russian set.

How you ever considered the Romans in this perspective? Have you ever thought about reenactment of this direction? At least in its centuries, the Roman Empire was also a benchmark in military affairs. And certainly, did not fight with Russia :)

Well, not a fact, give some time to homegrown researchers and they will definitely “discover” something! No, initially the aim of the club were the Late Middle Ages: some background suggested that any armor of this era and the ability to pacify your opponent with a halberd, couse or a falchion were the most promising.

What is the reason for choosing the name for the strongest club in the world, the foundation and existence of which you, as we just found out, are directly related to?

The choice of the name was very tightly connected with the choice of the symbol and colors. It seemed to us that it was cool, badass and beautiful. And we were not mistaken. ​​


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Patches in the form of white crosses, do they have some special function? Are they issued for special merits?

No, not for special merits. Initially, these were patches on civilian clothes, which showed that the person wearing them was a member of the Bern club. They could be sewn on clothes of any color; the main thing was the presence of a white Swiss cross, which illustrated the identification of “friend or foe”, because at medieval festivals of that time, everyone dressed almost identically. And since we immediately began to develop as a club at the same time in several cities, it often happened that people who did not initially know each other came to one festival. Therefore, such a system came in handy. An absolutely wonderful event occurred at a festival, when we had a northern chapter from Arkhangelsk. We come to Vyborg, and see there, in the yard, there is a gang of healthy bald fighters of a rather ferocious appearance, all with shields, marching, and training. Like twenty-five men. I told Trostin (Dmitry Trostin, captain of the HMB Russian national team — editor's note) “I hope these guys are on our side.” It turned out that this is none other than our new northern chapter..

Are there any branches of the club "Bern", which subsequently ceased to exist or had been disbanded?

Arkhangelsk, Izhevsk. However, in Arkhangelsk, it seems, life is still glimmering, although now we can call Murmansk our main stronghold in the north. In Rostov-on-Don, at one time there was a fairly strong chapter, but now there’s no one left. We even had Almaty (Kazakhstan) on our maps. But those are rather not chapters, but individual representatives. A chapter has been always considered a unit capable of setting up a combat unit as a “lance” which consisted of seven or eight people. Being under a general banner, they also have their own club banner. We call such units “fanlane” by analogy with the name of the base unit of the Swiss infantry.

By the way, what about expanding the club abroad? Is there foreign expansion?

Once we had a chapter in Minsk, but it existed only for a couple of years and disappeared. I have already mentioned the city of Almaty, but as for further abroad, we are considering options for cooperation. Open to suggestions, so to speak :) The interest is there, but you need to understand that we do not accept random people to the club and the requirements are quite high. Only few meet them.

You certainly have noticed the mood among the fighters. Many opinion leaders yearn for the festival atmosphere of the past, complain that the “big war”, the large-scale buhurts for which the events of the past years were famous, have sunk into oblivion. You yourself probably were a part of the events of that period, where there really were episodes that the infantryman’s soul might yearn for. What do you think about this?

How many opinions, so many leaders. We will need a little insight into the history at this point, namely the history of the “big war” between big battalions, the quintessence of which was the confrontation of two monumental coalitions: the “Livonian Order” and the “PLK”. Sometimes a third force intervened the “Order of the Temple”, from Minsk. All other clubs were grouped in either one or the other coalition. In 2005, with the development of our club, its emergence from the shadow of other clubs and its formation into a full-fledged combat unit on a buhurt field, the “Grand Company” has been formed, which consisted of about twelve clubs: the current “Nuremberg”, “Western Tower”, “Livonian Order”, clubs from Siberia and the Far East, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Our opponents, respectively, united in formed the “Confederation”. It is rather funny that the opponents of the Swiss (Swiss Confederation — the official naming of this state in Western Europe — ed. note) Called themselves that way, but I suppose there were some reasons for that. At some point, this confrontation reached a new level, the culmination occurred in the end of last decade. The exact time of the big battalions, when the fighters from absolutely all the clubs that existed in Russia at that time, were divided into two opposing sides. At that time, it was absolutely common to see 150-180 fighters on each side of a buhurt.


The main confrontation, of course, came at the festivals of 2007–2008 in Vyborg, which later became the generally recognized classics of the toughest and most uncompromising buhurts, which those oldfags are so nostalgic about. The fights were not at all until the fall. The fighters were raised, put back in line, not particularly equal in size, and they clashed again and again until the strengths ran out. The longest fight in my memory lasted over two hours. In such circumstances, the fundamental factors of victory were, of course, tactics and strategy. How to build a detachment, whom to replace in time in the first row, how to operate with reserves the calculations were made for several moves ahead, taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. It was important to understand who would come to a festival and on which side he would fight. Pavise shields were also extremely relevant at that time. Several rows of seven to eight people lined up with such shields and the opponents’ lines that had equal density could be pushed through only by a concentrated effort. This was specifically targeted at training.

In your opinion, when mass buhurts return to the big arena, will the pavise shields and such an archaic concept in modern realities like formation drills come back into use?

I believe that the more savvy and ambitious will watch our videos of those times and come to certain conclusions. Old Vyborg, Izborsk there are enough materials. The picture of the battle will change significantly. For people who will dare to go out in a mass buhurt with small impact shields, there will be a lot of surprises. :) For those who want to succeed in this field, of course, the drills will return. If this initiative takes root (and many clubs have already matured for large battalions), this will give development in the field of formation drills. As the saying goes, astrologers proclaim the year of mass buhurts, population of halberdiers doubles.


With all this in mind, how do you feel about assimilating small clubs into big ones, is there really a need for this?

In regards to club "Bern" this period has already passed. This particular stage of extensive development of the club, based on the confrontation of two parties: when the big battalions drove the movement, they tried to gather more fighters under their banners in order to field as much as possible. And the main problem of such formations at that time was not how many fighters would come to you, but how many among those would be useless. Accordingly, the more useful fighters you have, the less useless you will have to take in. That was the main reason to increase the requirements for your fighters, so that you could trust the people that are in your ranks. I think that this period of assimilation of small clubs by large ones has passed, and now nothing prevents small clubs from developing in all directions: 5 vs 5, duels, pro-fights. Usually, they are tied to some city. But if they are aimed to develop outside the city boundaries, it is easier for them, for organizational aspects, to unite with large clubs in order to travel more often. With the resurgence of the big battalions, it is possible that some changes will occur. But it can be said with confidence that such a process never is initiated the top.

And is there then an opportunity for small clubs to retain their identity? Suppose they reenact the Golden Horde, and then come under the banner of the Swiss infantry, how is this managed? Will they be able to keep their colors, their ideology?

I hope you are not talking about "PLK" (laughs)? This is a personal choice of each association. If we are talking specifically about colors and tabards, then it is only logical to wear the same colors. As I have already mentioned, this is the purpose of the “friend-foe” identification system: to minimize the probability of getting hit by your own by mistake.

In the info-field of the HMB community, there are occasional unrest about the fact that all small clubs turn into a red-yellow mass…


We had a club, “Champagne”, being with us in the union, for two years they fought at the events in their own tabards. But then they got tired of getting their backs hit, and they changed their tabards. By and large, this moment plays a role here. Embedding a small club in a large requires certain organizational costs. People need to get used to each other, because any club is a group of people united by a single goal. And if people share this goal, joining a big club, then it’s not a problem for them to change colors. In other words, if we use the terminology of fan stands, “We are fighting for our colors”.

So, with clubs that do not share the values of red and yellow, there is a healthy competition, no matter what, and no disgrace they are exposed to?

Absolutely. Now there are numerous wonderful tournaments with a nomination of 5 vs 5, where any club can field their team, fight under their banner, and no one will be oppressed in any way. Unjustly. :))

For many years, your interest in steel sport has not weakened, but objectively so far this hobby can still be called quite costly both for an individual fighter and for organizers, sponsors and enthusiasts of the movement, and you know firsthand about it. What motivates you to continue to support our movement, despite its participants not always being at least grateful?

Initially, we had a goal to do everything so that the movement lived and developed. People around changed, there were quite a few organizers from different clubs, but now they are few. I stayed because it is mainly the team that has formed in our club and around that holds me. And in it I draw new strength. I cannot count how many times I wanted to quit, but something always stopped me. In these people I see the reason why everything is being done, and it gives strength and motivation to work further. It is important to remember that the movement was originally a hobby, and not a means to make money. There are people who make armor — they make money. There are people who make festivals — they make money. But to a greater degree our movement has always been and will be a movement of enthusiasts. It can be called rather subsidized.

Can you say that this is your lifework, which takes up most of your efforts?

Controversial statement. A lifework is when there are no other things that you do? No, it does not take a large part of my efforts. Rather, is a significant part of my life.


As in any complex structure, there is a fairly clear hierarchy in clubs, teams and the entire community, where there is a place for ordinary soldiers, commanders, strategists, etc. As far as we know, over the years of historical reenactment, you have managed to try on almost all of these roles and have unique experience that allows you to assess what is happening in the world of medieval battles with particular objectivity. What is your opinion of the new recruits? Has anything changed in the minds of people who come to HMB then and now?

It can be said that with the development of the “Battle of the Nations” project we had a separation. There are those who was a part of the movement before it, who came here for the history and reenactment. And now there are a lot of people who are positioning HMB as a sport with a historical background. The contingent is more distinctly different now, and the presence of tournaments that do not require people, for example, reenactment clothes and accommodation in historical camps, has grown. To some extent, this inclines people to focus on sports. But, by and large, this is the choice of the club and the person — to develop in one or other direction. Have people changed? This is a question rather to those who actively train and teach. It is said that even now newcomers come with the knowledge that the abbreviation of HMB has the word “historical”, that many of them are still interested in this component. But never mind, we will beat this crap out of them. :)

And for the young recruits there is HMB Soft, which acts as a forge of personnel for steel battles.

What do you personally prefer: the development of festivals with all this atmosphere of authenticity, or more inclined to the development of the sports sector of the HMB?

In one Chinese treatise there is a saying: “Let thousands of schools prosper”. Both directions have the right to develop. I do not see the point of being limited to something alone, when there is an opportunity to develop in all the directions. You can also describe this as interpenetration of cultures.

But in your ideal world, imagine for a second, what would you like more?

In my ideal world, I would like to see myself alone in a cabin on the island of Bora Bora :)


And the legions of HMB fighters at this moment triumphantly perform in the near a castle with pavilions on the background, or at a sports stadium instead of football players?

It can be both. The change of locations, I believe, has an extremely beneficial effect, this is how we initially saw the concept of “Fight and travel”. Changing a stadium to a castle, and a castle — to a ring allows you to taste the atmosphere without dwelling on one thing. After all, most people left the movement simply because they at some point became bored. Because it’s really boring to travel to the same festivals, to see the same people. And now the development of sports and the presence of competitions around the globe gives a much more incentive to stay in HMB, much more incentives to grow, while remaining in motion. As Genghis Khan once said, “Travel is an opportunity to see new countries, meet new people and kill them!”

Tell us a little about the project “Higher Schools of HMB”. What is its purpose, who’s idea was it, who had a hand in the embodiment?

This is an important project at this stage in the development of the movement. If you take it in the form in which this idea took shape, then it originally belonged to Igor Kravchenko (fighter of the team “Partizan” — e