“Motherland, my friends, is not just the president’s donkey who needs to be kissed all the time. Motherland is a poor babushka selling potatoes at a train station.”
The words uttered by Russian rock star Yuri Shevchuk on stage during a concert in the city of Ufa last May, proved to be nuts for the Russian authorities.
The sermon was also captured on video:
After the ceremony, where Yuri Shevchuk declared that “the country is not the president’s donkey, which you need to kiss all the time,” the security forces came to him. They isolated Shevchuk, put a special forces “screen” in the dressing room, and within an hour they talked with the musician, wrote producer Radmir Usayev. pic.twitter.com/wJ7poH9dFO
– Пермь 36.6 (@perm36_6) May 19, 2022
Local security forces arrested him immediately after the concert, according to local music producer Radmir Usayev, according to the Russian newspaper The Independent. Moscow Times He said.
They reportedly wanted to arrest him, but were “smart” at the last minute to ask him to sign a police report, according to the producer.
With the current authoritarian laws in the country, there is no doubt that the suspension can be seen as a criticism of the regime.
At the same time, it is not only good for PR that the authorities follow the statements about the “president’s donkey” in court.
– A silly situation arose. The funny thing here is that the attorney general has to deal with whether the home country is actually the president’s donkey. In the first instance, the courts did not want to consider the case, says Inna Sangadjieva, senior adviser to the Norwegian Helsinki Commission.
The case was sent from the local courts of Ufa to a court in St. Petersburg, the hometown of Shevchuk, which refused to consider the case.
He was thus returned to a district court in the city of Siberia, which in July imposed a fine of 8000 NOK on him for “defaming the Russian army”.
– This is, to say the least, unpleasant for the Russian authorities.
Since the 1980s, the Russian artist has written texts containing anti-war messages with sarcastic and sometimes very blunt strikes on the Russian authorities and Putin.
– They are afraid of him. For the Russian authorities, free people are dangerous. Their goal is to silence and intimidate them, but by using sarcasm in this way, he rises above them.
In Putin’s throat
This isn’t the first time Shevchuk has been on Putin’s throat.
During a charity event with Putin and the Russian cultural elite in 2010 He chose Shevchuk to give a lecture to the Russian President on human rights in front of a full press.
He began the sermon by saying that Putin’s aide had asked him not to ask critical questions during the ceremony the day before.
The unusually heated debate between the two was recorded and also broadcast on Russian pro-government channels.
– This video is starting to spread again now, says Sangadzhieva.
Since then, and especially in the past six months, the Russian authorities have severely tightened freedom of expression at the political and cultural levels.
Shevchuk joins the ranks of Russian cultural figures who have distanced themselves from the war.
Singer Alla Pugacheva, one of the biggest pop stars in Russia, did it later The invasion distanced themselves from the war and they left the country.
Parts of the political opposition in Russia for many years consisted of a less liberal elite in Moscow, which to a limited extent managed to reach large segments of the population.
But artists like Shevchuk, and to a greater extent Pugacheva, manage what many politicians cannot: reach broad segments of the population.
– How dangerous are these artists to the system?
– I think between 20 and 25 percent of Russians actually support Putin in everything he does. The majority of Russians fear losing their jobs or facing other consequences if they speak out against the war or Putin. It’s the silent majority that great artists can reach through their protests, she says.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”