Russian rapper Oxxxymiron brings banned anti-war message to Istanbul

ISTANBUL — Just a month ago, it would have been an innocuous scene in Moscow: Oxxxymiron, one of Russia’s most popular rappers, performi...


ISTANBUL — Just a month ago, it would have been an innocuous scene in Moscow: Oxxxymiron, one of Russia’s most popular rappers, performing his latest tunes on stage with a banner behind him reading: ‘Russians Against War “.

But after President Vladimir V. Putin decided to invade Ukraine, what had been typical for the rapper, known for his political slogans, quickly became impossible.

On Tuesday, instead of playing one of six long-awaited sold-out arena shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Oxxxymiron performed an anti-war concert at a crowded club in Istanbul, while streaming the performance on YouTube and other platforms in the hope that people in Russia would watch and donate. He promised that all proceeds, including ticket sales, would go to help the more than three million Ukrainian refugees who fled Russian aggression.

A crowd of Russians, many of whom had left his own country over the past three weeks, fearing Mr. Putin’s hardening oppression, has packed a club in Istanbul’s trendy Kadıköy district, chanting “No to war!” and “Glory to Ukraine!” – slogans that could now have them imprisoned at home.

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

“I hate feeling so helpless, but I do understand that what we’re doing today is the absolute minimum,” he said during the concert. “It is important not only for Ukraine but also for Russia, which we can lose.”

Thanks to the internet, rap became a dominant genre in Russian pop culture in recent years, with new stars challenging the government’s favored aesthetics and values. At one point, the Kremlin, fearful of losing the loyalty of young Russians, pressured some of the most outspoken rap artists and close gigs.

Oxxxymiron was a pioneer of the movement and a symbol of the post-Soviet generation of globalized Russians. After growing up in Russia and Germany, and graduating from Oxford, he returned to his native St. Petersburg and quickly became an ambassador for Russian rap on the international scene.

Oxxxymiron can now be considered one of the elders of Russian rap, but his sentiments on the war are shared by many Russian artists of all genres. Many of them started their career in Ukraine before moving to Russia or actively toured in Ukraine, building a fan base there.

After Valery Meladze, a pop singer who regularly appeared on public channels, called in order for the war to end as soon as possible, it was quickly deleted from some music channels in Russia, as well as other pro-Ukrainian and Ukrainian artists.

Rapper Face said he fled Russia and is “virtually” no longer a Russian artist or citizen.

“I have no intention of returning to Russia to pay taxes there,” said Face, also known as Ivan Dryomin, wrote on Instagram. “Our condition has forced me and my loved ones to leave our home, our land.”

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

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

Outside the Istanbul club where Oxxxymiron performed, people said they were still digesting the shock of Russia’s attack on what many consider a “brotherly nation”. Millions of Russians have family in Ukraine, and many have worked, studied or spent part of their childhood there.

“I feel complete helplessness and anger at what is happening, that you cannot influence anything,” said Natalia, 32, a computer engineer from Belarus, who said her country was “an accomplice in this war “.

“I don’t understand how anyone could support him,” said Natalia, who declined to give her last name, fearing repercussions for relatives back home.

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

Anna, an art historian from St Petersburg, said she had been protesting Mr Putin’s regime for years. She said she had to flee Russia after a criminal case was opened against a friend.

“I don’t personally feel guilty, but I’m ashamed of my condition,” said Anna, 26, 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 ended up either here or in prison.”

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

“We are still trying to adapt – even now we are fleeing the country and settling here, as the war in Ukraine continues and people are dying there,” said Yevgeny Yankovoy, 46.

He stood in front of the club, holding a poster that read, “We allowed this war to happen. We are too busy now.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Russian rapper Oxxxymiron brings banned anti-war message to Istanbul
Russian rapper Oxxxymiron brings banned anti-war message to Istanbul
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