‘No to War!’ Russian celebrities risk Putin’s wrath to condemn Ukraine invasion
Russian celebrities have united to condemn their country’s invasion of Ukraine in moves that could make them targets for President Vladimir Putin.
The government controls vast swathes of Russia’s popular culture by filtering access to the main television networks it controls so anyone who speaks out against Putin is threatening their career.
Despite the threats pop stars, late-night television hosts and Russian chess grandmasters have been posting black squares to their social media accounts in protest of the war.
Television host Maxim Galkin, husband of Alla Pugacheva, Russia’s biggest celebrity, wrote on Instagram: “I’ve been talking to friends and relatives from Ukraine since early morning!
“I can’t find the words to say what I feel! How can this be possible! There can be no justification for war! No to war!”
Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov denounced Putin, writing: “The commander-in-chief spins the ‘nuclear button’ in his hands like a keychain from an expensive car.
“Is the next step a nuclear salvo? I cannot interpret Vladimir Putin’s words about a retaliatory weapon in any other way.
“Only the anti-war movement of Russians can save life on this planet.”
Eurovision popstar Svetlana Loboda added: “My heart is broken. I’ve been in touch with my loved ones since 5am. How is this possible? Lord, stop all this! I’m just crying.”
World number five chess player Yan Nepomniachtchi also wrote on Twitter: “History has seen many Black Thursdays. But today is blacker than the others. #saynotowar.”
История видела немало чёрных четвергов. Но сегодняшний чернее прочих. #нетвойне #saynotowar
— Yan Nepomniachtchi (@lachesisq) February 24, 2022
Figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva wrote on her Instagram story: “I hope this all ends as soon as possible, like a bad dream.”
Yelena Kovalskaya, director of the Meyerhold Theater Center, even announced her resignation from the state theatre after the invasion, saying: “It is impossible to work for a murderer and receive a salary from him. I will finish the work I’ve started, but without pay.”
The Moscow Times reported that an activist had also been arrested after attempting to organise a protest walk.
It came as Ukrainian football legend Andriy Shevchenko wrote on Instagram: “Ukraine is my motherland! I have always been proud of my people and my country.
“We have gone through many difficult times, and over the past 30 years we have formed as a nation! A nation of sincere, hardworking and freedom-loving citizens.
“This is our most important asset! Today is a difficult time for all of us. But we must unite! In unity, we will win! Glory to Ukraine!”
The Kremlin said that it believes public opinion is “no less supportive” of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine than of Putin’s recognition of Ukraine’s two breakaway regions, which state-run polling said enjoys support among four out of five Russians.