Boris Grebenshchikov* explained his refusal to perform in Ukraine

Boris Grebenshchikov* explained his refusal to perform in Ukraine
Boris Grebenshchikov* explained his refusal to perform in Ukraine

Russian musician Boris Grebenshchikov* “does not see himself” performing in Ukraine after the start of the military operation, since the Ukrainians are aggressively opposed to the Russians, who for many years were a grateful audience for the rocker himself and the Aquarium group he founded. This is stated in a Financial Times article written by American journalist Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, who interviewed Grebenshchikov*.

The author of the article recalls that before the outbreak of hostilities, the musician often toured Ukraine both solo and with Aquarium. “The reaction to our group in Ukraine was sometimes even more welcoming and loving than in Russia. It was simply amazing,” said Grebenshchikov himself*.

At the same time, in the current conditions, as the FT writes, he does not see himself performing in Ukraine. “Half of Ukrainians think: “Oh, a good Russian is a dead Russian.” I get a lot of letters like this.” Grebenshchikov* said that he has many friends in Ukraine who “don’t understand why they are being bombed.”

He also mentioned his charity project Heal the Sky to raise funds for the largest Ukrainian children’s hospital. As part of this project, the rocker, together with Western musicians – Jackson Browne, Marianne Faithfull, Richard Thompson, Dave Stewart, Stevie Nicks and others – recorded a collection of songs. Ukrainian singer Sergei Babkin also took part in the recording.

The album is due out in September on Bandcamp. It included a joint track by Grebenshchikov* and Stewart, a former member of the Eurythmics group, inspired, according to the leader of Aquarium, by photographs of destroyed buildings on Ukrainian territory. The musician said that in one of these photographs he saw his friend’s house in Kherson.

“This is no longer a house, this is a hole. I saw how entire theaters were destroyed in Ukraine – we played in them. I know these places very well,” said Grebenshchikov*.

FT recalls that the last Russian concert of Aquarium took place in St. Petersburg in February 2022 – the night before the start of the military operation in Ukraine. Grebenshchikov* told the publication that some members of the group “suddenly became Z-patriots” and expressed pity for them. “I feel sorry for these people. What more can I say? Some people think, some don’t,” says the musician.

Since then, he left the group and continued to tour as BG+, choosing London as his “base,” where he has lived with his wife Irina since 2019. “I prefer to live and work in London, because it suits me much more than staying in St. Petersburg. I’ve been working here since 1988,” says the musician.

Regarding the prospects of visiting Russia, Grebenshchikov* says that “it could be a little dangerous.”

“At the moment, the country in which I was born and the country that I love are in a very sad, tragic situation. Millions and millions of people are afraid to think, afraid to speak out. We all know that silence is like cancer. It eats you from the inside and kills you. <�…> Therefore, I’m thinking about how to help not only Ukrainians, but also Russians, because they are in a terrible situation,” the rocker shared.

The author of the article for FT recalls that in 2015 Grebenshchikov* organized a charity concert for Ukrainian refugee children, and federal television channels called him a “supporter of the fascists.” The musician himself insistently urged not to consider him a political figure. “I don’t take a stand, I try to behave normally,” Ludovic Hunter-Tilney quotes him as saying.

Now, in an interview with a journalist, Grebenshchikov* admitted that “it seems that he was quite wise in 2015.”

“In my position it is very easy to write relevant songs. Hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions, will immediately react to this and say “I’m with you” or “I’m against you.” But songs tend to disappear very quickly. I do not like it! I want my songs to stay!” — the musician shared with the journalist.

He stated that he followed Socrates’ concept of the “good spirit” (eudaimonia). “It means you live your life knowing that you did everything you could and everything you thought was right. This is what Aquarium and I have been doing for the last 50-plus years,” explained Grebenshchikov*.

In June 2023, the Russian Ministry of Justice added the musician to the register of foreign agents for performing “in foreign countries with the aim of providing financial assistance to Ukraine” and for criticizing the policies of the Russian authorities and the actions of the Russian Armed Forces. In May, an administrative protocol was drawn up against Grebenshchikov* to discredit the Russian army, and in June, under this protocol, he was fined 50 thousand rubles.

Earlier, in January, State Duma deputy Sultan Khamzaev promised to get the Investigative Committee to check the rocker’s statements for violations of Russian law. Back in 2019, Grebenshchikov* stated in an interview that the Russian government is not interested in “anything other than its own money and power.”

* included by the Russian Ministry of Justice in the register of foreign agents.

The article is in Russian

Tags: Boris Grebenshchikov explained refusal perform Ukraine


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