Ill-Will Hunting for Russia’s Musical Dissidents

Ill-Will Hunting for Russia’s Musical Dissidents

The Kremlin is intensifying attacks on anti-war Russian musicians and artists living abroad.

At the beginning of the all-out war in Ukraine, the Kremlin faced anti-war resistance from many Russian popular artists. It responded with a media smear campaign against anti-war rappers, rock bands, and stand-up comedians.

But since many anti-war artists chose exile rather than complicity, many went into exile, leaving pro-Kremlin outlets abusing people who could not hear them.

So this year the authorities developed a new strategy. Now the Kremlin seeks their arrest and extradition to the motherland to face trial and a (guaranteed prison term) for anti-war propaganda. At a minimum, they aim to stop them from performing abroad.

To make the plan work, the Russian authorities are trying to secure the cooperation of countries like the United Arab Emirates and Thailand, which have welcomed tens of thousands of Russian emigrants.

This resulted in a dramatic standoff in Thailand between the Russian rock band Bi-2 and the Russian consul who got them detained on January 29 and asked to have them returned to Russia. Two days later, all seven members of Bi-2 were released following the intervention of Israeli and Australian diplomats acting for those who are joint nationals and left for Tel Aviv.

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