Oxxxymiron, Russian rapper, brings a banned anti-war message to Istanbul

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Oxxxymiron, Russian rapper, brings a banned anti-war message to Istanbul

ISTANBUL — Only a month ago it would have been an innocuous scene in Moscow: Oxxxymiron, one of Russia’s most popular rappers, is on stage performing his latest track with a banner reading: “War against Russians.”

But after President Vladimir V. Putin decided to invade Ukraine, which was typical of the rapper, known for his political sloganeering, quickly became impossible.

On Tuesday, instead of playing one of six long-awaited, sold-out arena shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Oxxxymiron gave an anti-war concert in a packed club in Istanbul, while performing on YouTube and other platforms. of streaming. Hopefully people in Russia will watch and donate. He promised that all proceeds, including ticket sales, would go to help the more than three million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

Crowds of Russians, many of whom had left their country in the past three weeks, filled a club in Istanbul’s modern Kadikoy district, fearing Mr Putin’s vehement persecution, “Not for war!” and “Glory to Ukraine!” -Slogans that can now get them imprisoned in the house.

“Millions of people in Russia are against this war,” said Oxxxymiron, also known as Miron Fedorov.

“I hate to feel so powerless, but I understand very well that what we’re doing today is absolutely minimal,” he said during the concert. “This is important not only for Ukraine but also for Russia, which we could lose.”

Thanks to the Internet, rap has become a dominant genre in Russian pop culture over the years, with new stars defying the government’s preferred aesthetics and values. At one point the Kremlin, concerned that he might lose the loyalty of young Russians, put pressure on some of the most vocal rap artists and called off concerts.

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Oxxxymiron has been a pioneer of the movement and has been a symbol of the post-Soviet generation of globalized Russians. Growing up in Russia and Germany and earning a degree at Oxford, he returned to his native St. Petersburg and quickly became the ambassador of Russian rap on the international stage.

Oxxxymiron may now be seen as one of the old defenders of Russian rap, but his feelings about the war are shared by many Russian artists across genres. Many of them either started their careers in Ukraine or toured actively in Ukraine before moving to Russia, building a fan base there.

After Valery Meladze, a pop singer who regularly appeared on state-run channels, called for an end to the war as soon as possible, he was quickly joined by other pro-Ukrainian and Ukrainian artists from some of Russia’s music channels. removed from.

Rapper Face said he had fled Russia and was “practically” no longer a Russian artist or citizen.

“I don’t plan to return to Russia to pay taxes there,” Face, also known as Ivan Drymin, wrote on Instagram. “Our state has forced me and my loved ones to leave our home, our land.”

Not all Russian rappers oppose the invasion. Timati, who has supported and praised Mr Putin, argued that the war in Ukraine was “a coercive measure taken by the country’s leadership.”

“I love Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” Timati, also known as Timur Yunusov, said in a social media post. “I’m so sorry that we were pushed against each other and we didn’t find a compromise.”

Outside the Istanbul club where Oksoximiron performed, people said they were still digesting the shock of the attack from Russia, which many consider to be a “brotherly nation”. Millions of Russians have relatives in Ukraine, and many of them worked, studied or spent parts of their childhoods.

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“I feel completely powerless and angry about what’s happening, that you can’t influence anything,” said 32-year-old Natalia, an IT engineer from Belarus.

“I don’t understand how anyone can support this,” Natalia said, refusing to give her last name, fearing repercussions against relatives back home.

Many Russians at the concert said that they felt personal responsibility for what was happening in Ukraine. At the same time, a common belief was that they were powerless to change the political course of their country.

St Petersburg art historian Anna said she had been opposing Mr Putin’s regime for years. He said he had to flee Russia after a criminal case was opened against a friend.

“I don’t think I’m personally to blame, but I’m ashamed of my state,” said 26-year-old Anna, who declined to give her last name because she has family in Russia. “I fought against the regime, my friends fought against it, but we either ended up here or in jail.”

Others said that the Russians were too busy with their day-to-day problems to try to change the political situation.

“We always try to adapt – even now, we flee the country and settle here, while the war in Ukraine continues and people die there,” said 46-year-old Yevgeny Yankovy.

He stood outside the club, holding a poster that read: “We have let this war happen. We’re very busy right now.”

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