Popular 20th-century Russian pop star Alla Pugacheva announced her opposition to the Ukraine invasion on Sunday, emerging as the most important celebrity to come out against the war as President Vladimir Putin has to Face growing challenges on the battlefield.
Pugacheva, 73, wrote in an Instagram post, where she has 3.4 million followers, that Russians have died in Ukraine because of “futile goals”. The war, she wrote, has “turned our country into ruins and worsened the lives of our citizens”.
The pop star left Russia for Israel after the war began in February and recently returned to Moscow, according to Russian news reports. Her husband, TV presenter and comedian Maksim Galkin, spoke out against the war; but Ms. Pugacheva, while voicing support for her husband, did not directly comment on the fight before posting on Sunday.
There was no immediate response from the Kremlin. A spokesman for Putin spoke positively about Pugacheva this month, noting that she and the Russian president “know each other and have met many times”.
Many major Russian cultural figures have voiced their criticism of the war, but Pugacheva is particularly popular among a wide section of Russians, with a reputation that stretches back to Soviet times. Pugacheva has been a superstar since the 1970s, and The New York Times in 2000 described her as “the goddess of Russian pop music, the Tina Turner of Moscow with hints of Edith Piaf, whose songs have brought her to life. a voice for millions of aspirants.” According to reports, she has sold more than 250 million records, which would place her in the list of the best-selling music artists in the world.
During the Putin years, she remained a major figure on state television; The state-run Channel 1 covered her 70th birthday in 2019, calling her “the head of the national stage”. Putin awarded her the Order for the Fatherland in recognition of her in 2014.
It was the Kremlin’s repression of 46-year-old Galkin, her fifth husband, that seems to have prompted Pugacheva to decide to publicly oppose the war. Russia’s Justice Ministry on Friday declared Mr Galkin a “foreign spy”, a legal title the Kremlin increasingly uses against its opponents.
Ms Pugacheva spoke directly to the Justice Department in her post on Sunday, claiming that she now wants to become a “foreign agent” herself.
“I ask to be added to the ranks of the foreign spies of my dear country,” she wrote. “I stand in solidarity with my husband, an honest, respectable and genuine man, a genuine and incorruptible patriot of Russia, who wishes his Motherland prosperity, peaceful life, freedom of speech, and freedom of speech. opinion and the death of our people for vain goals that are turning our country into an evil and worsening the lives of our citizens. “
In a sign of Pugacheva’s political significance, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, this month described the pop star as still siding with the Kremlin. While Mr. Galkin has made “very bad statements”, Ms. Pugacheva has not made any comments that the Kremlin considers unacceptable, Mr. Peskov said.
On Sunday, a senior lawmaker, Pyotr Tolstoy, wrote on the social messaging platform Telegram that he was sorry that Ms Pugacheva had “lost touch with reality”.
“She will no longer find the support of decent Russians,” Tolstoy wrote. “We would have won without her song.”
Mr. Putin is facing growing criticism within Russia after Ukraine deployed Russian forces in northeastern Ukraine earlier this month, forcing a shameful retreat. War hawks questioned the Kremlin’s handling of the conflict on state television, insisting that Russia should fight more aggressively; Anti-war critics have been encouraged by Putin’s failure to publicly call for his resignation.
And at a regional summit in Uzbekistan on Thursday and Friday, Putin acknowledged during meetings with the leaders of China and India that both countries have “concerns” about the war. painting. The tacit criticism of Mr. Putin from the world’s two most populous countries underscores that he is facing perhaps the most challenging moment in recent months.