Russian rock musicians speak out against war | music | DW

On May 18, the Russian rock band DDT gave a concert in Ufa Square, the city of more than one million people, located west of the Urals. There were nearly 10,000 fans, and they were eagerly waiting for the concert. After all, DDT is the legend of the Russian rock band. Star and songwriter Yuri Shevchuk is considered one of the most prominent rock stars in the country.

Shevchuk is especially popular in Ufa. He grew up in the Volga, wrote his first songs there, and there DDT was founded in 1981 – a band with its voice that heralded many the era of perestroika and has accompanied it ever since.

DDT musicians at a concert in Berlin in 2004

In the middle of the concert, Shevchuk appeared before the audience and said: “People are being killed in Ukraine, and our children are dying there too. For what? What are the goals, friends? Again, the young man is killed – the youth of Russia and the youth of Ukraine. Old people, women and children also die. For what? For some of Napoleon’s plans for the next Caesar? Is that all? Applause accompanies his speech.

Yuri Shevchuk’s bravery is punished

“But our homeland is not the president’s donkey, you have to lick and kiss it all the time,” Shevchuk continued. “Our homeland – for me, the poor grandmother at the train station is the one who sells potatoes. And now I will sing you a song very close to my heart:“ Love.” Shevchuk sang his song in 1996, and the audience rejoiced. Some on social media mentioned that there were shouts saying “ f**k war!” And a chorus of voices chanted in the arena. However, the videos of that moment could no longer be found so easily.

After the concert, the police visited Shevchuk. A written report has been drawn up, with the accusation that amounts to somewhat of a “discrediting the Russian armed forces” of Shevchuk. And soon the case will go to court in St. Petersburg, where the musician lives. The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that the case had already been registered. Shevchuk himself briefly commented on the event, saying: “Yes, I must have missed a lot.”

Russian rock stars against war

Yuri Shevchuk is a declared and well-known pacifist: “Do not shoot!” It was the name of one of his first songs, which is still acclaimed by fans today. He wrote it after a conversation with returnees to Afghanistan with whom he was once in a class.

Shevchuk remained loyal to the cause and continually protested the many wars in the following decades: Thus, he gave a concert in Belgrade with his DDT musicians after the city was bombed by NATO forces in 1999. He condemned Russia’s wars in Chechnya, which began in 1994.

Immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, the musician, who seemed visibly disappointed, said in an interview, “As a DDT, we’ve been singing for peace all along. But I think that didn’t help: you can see for yourself what happened we are all sad and shocked.”

Singer Zemfira: Mariupol is calling

Yuri Shevchuk’s voice isn’t the only voice that resonates in the Russian music scene.

Zemfira, the mysterious rock queen of the country (which, by the way, is also from Ufa), also clearly expressed herself. “The Meat” is the name of her last song, released on May 19, 2022, in which she sang: “It is spring in the calendar, and in fact – trenches and rockets. Moreover:” It is midnight in Mariupol … I have nightmares every night . What are we up to? Why are we here? I will look for the answer for the rest of my life. Pray for me, pray…”

Drawing in Zemfira The Meat video.

“The Flesh”: Zemfra in her opposition to the war in Ukraine

In the video for the song, reminiscent of punk band The Clash’s “London Calling” (1979) because of the end-time scenario evoked in the lyrics, the black and white and red expressive graphics reflect the horror. of war and reminiscent of current images from Ukraine. The cartoons may have been designed by Zemfira and co-actress Renata Litvinova.

Zemfira has been in Paris since the start of the war. And in the official Russian media, the singer was accused of treason and hypocrisy.

Boris Grebenshkov: The war against Ukraine is madness

“The war between Russia and Ukraine is madness, and those who launched it are a disgrace to Russia,” says video message Boris Grebenshchikov succinctly. The charismatic personality of the Aquarium group is arguably the biggest rock idol in Russia, and people celebrate it across generations.

Like Zemfira, Grebenshikov also does not consider concert activity in Russia possible at the moment. He lives in London and performs concerts for the Russian-speaking communities of Western Europe and Israel.

Boris Grebenshchikov in a black hat and sunglasses plays on stage.

Russian rock star Boris ‘Pop’ Grebenshchikov at a concert in Odessa in August 2021

“When I see pictures of Ukrainian cities destroyed by the Russians, I often recognize parts of the concert halls where I was playing,” the musician said in an interview with the Russian-speaking “Channel 9” of Israel.

He takes a pessimistic view of the situation in Russia from a historical perspective: “Think of the Roman Emperor Caligula: When madmen take power, the environment adapts. People sell their consciences to appease a mad ruler.” Grebenshchikov said that Russia invaded Ukraine brutally, horribly, and inappropriately. “When one nation tries to destroy another nation, it is a fascist.”

They are obvious words, but they are hardly heard in Russia.

This article was originally written in German.

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