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‘He’s already chosen his side!’ Russian officials call to revoke singer Valery Meladze's citizenship after video shows him repeating Ukrainian slogan
A video that emerged on social media this weekend appears to show Russian singer Valery Meladze responding to the words “Glory to Ukraine” at a New Year’s Eve party in Dubai. In the clip, the person behind the camera calls out the slogan to Meladze while the singer is giving a speech. In response, Meladze pulls the microphone away from his face and appears to mouth the words, “Glory to the heroes!” The person filming then shouts in celebration, prompting Meladze to ask him to calm down, saying, “We’re apolitical here today.”
Meladze condemned Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine shortly after it was launched. A number of his planned concerts in the country were subsequently canceled.
Russian officials were quick to respond to the clip of Meladze repeating the pro-Ukrainian slogan.
Yelena Afanasyeva, senator from Russia’s Orenburg region:
The savagery! The ugliness! The treachery! For his support for the Banderites, Meladze should lose his Russian citizenship. While our citizens are dying for Russian people [and] protecting Russian territories, some people are allowing themselves to give Nazi salutes with Ukrainian Nazis. It’s unacceptable.
Sergey Mironov, head of the A Just Russia party’s faction in the Russian State Duma:
At a party abroad, singer Valery Meladze expressed support for a Ukrainian nationalist slogan. Sure, he said he was “apolitical” afterwards. But having parties outside of the country and then joining in with criminal chants — is that really “apolitical?”
His behavior was reprehensible. A true Russian artist cannot and should not behave that way. He’s trying to have it both ways, to have his cake and eat it too. It’s time to pick a side. Although, judging by his behavior, this “artist” has already picked his side. I propose revoking all of Meladze’s awards. It’s the fair and just thing to do.
Yelena Drapeko, Russian State Duma deputy from St. Petersburg:
I support declaring him a “foreign agent.” But it would be better for him to leave [the country] and to be banned from entering Russia.
According to the Telegram channel Mash, the organization Army of Fatherland Defenders has reported Meladze to the Russian Investigative Committee and to the Attorney General’s Office, requesting that he be barred from entering Russia. The activists also called for federal authorities to investigate whether the singer legally obtained Russian citizenship (he was born in Georgia during the Soviet period).
On January 3, Meladze took to Telegram to respond to the criticisms against him:
People, I want to make sure you hear me and understand my words. Like many others, I’ve been living with feelings of heaviness and sadness for 10 months now. It just so happens that two nations that I love dearly are in a conflict in which people are dying. I CANNOT AND DON’T WANT TO HATE ANYBODY, AND I’M NOT TRYING TO CATER TO ANYONE. I only wish that the antagonism would end, and that agreement would prevail among these close nations. And for that, I’m prepared to give everything.
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