Published: March 19, 2014 (Issue # 1802)
Some leading Russian rock musicians have spoken out against war.
It’s a small wonder, as rock musicians are generally expected to be against war of any kind. In addition, few musicians know Ukraine better than Russian rock musicians, as Ukrainian cities were almost always part of their tour routes, as well as Russia being a necessary destination for leading Ukrainian bands.
Not that speaking out against Russia’s military involvement does not require courage in the atmosphere of intolerance created by the Kremlin and its media outlets, with the risk of having concerts canceled and music banned from being played on the radio or elsewhere.
Following a vote by the Federation Council on Mar. 1, which unanimously supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans to invade Ukraine, the hugely popular singer-songwriter Zemfira posted an amateur live video on her website in which she performed a song by Ukrainian band Okean Elzy.
Called “Vidpusti” (Let Me Go), the song was originally recorded at Zemfira’s stadium concert in Kiev on Mar. 5, 2008.
Introducing the song, Zemfira offered words of support to Ukrainian musicians. “There is more money in Russia, but there is more soul in Ukraine,” she said before calling its author, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, “Ukraine’s most talented composer.”
Earlier, Okean Elzy’s Russian concerts, due to take place in late March, were banned following an outcry from the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly’s United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov. Officially, the gigs were canceled over alleged financial or technical issues.
There was nothing else on Zemfira’s website other than the video against a black background, which highlighted the artist’s strong and tragic statement.
The video was replaced by the word “Reconstruction” on Mar. 10, but on the same day Zemfira posted a fragment from the Russian film “Stalingrad,” where dark battle sequences in the totally destroyed city were accompanied by her piano-backed cover of the Kino song “Legend.”