How the Kremlin demands “repentance” from artists: investigation of “Meduza”

How the Kremlin demands “repentance” from artists: investigation of “Meduza”

“Meduza” and “Vazhnye istorii” publications published an investigation about how the “repentant” system is structured for Russian artists who previously opposed the war, but want to continue performing in Russia. It states that the presidential administration sets a number of conditions for them – in particular, they will help the “Doctor Lisa” fund, speak out in support of the so-called special military operation or speak to the Russian military.

The loudest cases when artists who spoke out against the war in Ukraine made public gestures in support of it were the performance of the leader of the group “Zveri” Roman Bylyk (Roma Zver’) in the Donetsk region in front of the Russian military in the summer of this year, as well as the performance of Diana Arbenina with the wife of a serviceman. As noted in the investigation, such cases are becoming more and more: “actors and musicians, who previously opposed the war, want to keep their earnings in Russia and go to compromises and cooperation with the state.”

The story of the performance of the “Zverei” soloist in Donbass is described in detail in the article. It is noted that in the summer of this year, Yury Kot, the dean of the journalism faculty of the Moscow State Institute of Culture, complained to the prosecutor’s office against Bylyk because of his anti-war stance. The holding of his concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg turned out to be in question. After the trip to Donbass, the Moscow concert “Zverei” took place. One of Meduza’s sources claims that the musician met with representatives of the presidential administration. “Rome was given an ultimatum: ‘If you want a concert, go to Donbass,'” he says.

One of Meduza’s interlocutors, a musician who is not named in the investigation, also previously condemned the Russian invasion and, according to him, faced pressure from the authorities. In order to save his projects, he was offered to “help the children of Donbass” – wards of the charitable fund named after Elizaveta Glinka “Doctor Lisa” from the territories occupied by Russia. At the same time, the main condition was not the help itself, but the public story about it in social networks. According to reports, the same conditions were imposed on the artist Alexei Serebryakov, who was threatened with the cancellation of the performance “Einstein and Margarita” because of the anti-war stance of Ksenia Rappoport, who played in it. “The play was being prepared to be banned throughout the country, and Serebryakov really wanted to play it. He went to negotiate with the president’s administration, they told him: write a video [о помощи детям Донбасса]””, the material states.

It also talks about the role of Sergey Novikov – head of the presidential administration’s public affairs department. Interlocutors of “Meduza” call Novikov “the main censor of cinema, theater and music”, and he himself, as it is said, oversees negotiations with artists, during which they are presented with one or another conditions for continuing to work in Russia.

A year and a half ago, DDT musician Yury Shevchuk was also offered to support the “special operation” – according to his acquaintance. Such support was called a condition for holding concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Shevchuk refused, the concerts did not take place.

It is also confirmed that there are “voluntary mediators” between cultural figures and representatives of the authorities who can petition for certain artists before the administration of Sergei Novikov. It is confirmed, in particular, that director Fyodor Bondarchuk asked for actor Danyla Kozlovsky, whose performances were canceled due to his anti-war stance. The mission ended in failure. “The main problem of Danyla is that he started to resist,” Medusa quotes one of the actor’s acquaintances. In September 2023, the series “One Ring Bar”, which was produced by Kozlovsky and where he played the main role, was not issued a rental certificate, and the film “Aviator” will be shot instead by Yegor Konchalovsky, who supported the war. However, the Kremlin allegedly granted Bondarchuk’s request to help actor Pavel Derevyanko, who previously spoke in support of Alexei Navalny. For this he had to go to Donbass.

It is also stated in the material that the authorities “really want” to return the artists who went abroad to Russia, but the condition for this is “repentance”.

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