Alla Pugacheva, the queen of Soviet pop music, has denounced President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, which she says is killing soldiers for delusional purposes, overwhelming ordinary people and making Russia a global pariah.
Since the Feb. 24 invasion, Russia has cracked down on dissent, with fines for artists who make anti-war comments. State television presents the critics as traitors to the fatherland.
Pugacheva, 73, a Soviet and then post-Soviet icon who is probably Russia’s most famous woman, asked Russia to also classify her as a “foreign agent” after her husband, 46-year-old TV comedian Maxim Galkin, was Sept. 16 included on the state list.
“I ask you to include me in the ranks of foreign agents of my beloved country because I stand in solidarity with my husband,” Pugacheva said on Instagram, which is banned in Russia.
Pugacheva said her husband was a patriot who wanted a prosperous country with peace, freedom and “an end to the death of our boys for illusory ends”.
Russia, said Pugacheva, was becoming a “pariah” as Russian lives were depleted by the conflict. She did not use the word war but clearly disapproved of what the Kremlin calls a special military operation.
Such penetrating reviews from one of Russia’s most famous people – known across generations for hits such as the 1982 song Million Scarlet Roses and the 1978 film The Woman who Sings – are rare and potentially dangerous in modern Russia.
It also indicates the level of concern among the wider Russian elite about the war.
Russian singer Alla Pugacheva denounced President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. Source: AAP / Alexei Druzhinin/AP
Calling someone a “foreign agent” is often the first sign of serious trouble from the authorities. The label has negative Soviet-era connotations and its bearers must prominently display it on all content they post. They also face heavy financial and bureaucratic demands.
Pugacheva has in the past been celebrated by both Putin and Boris Yeltsin. When Mikhail Gorbachev died, she praised the last Soviet leader for allowing freedom and rejecting violence.
Putin now presents the war in Ukraine as an attempt to thwart Western attempts to destroy Russia – a plot he believes will fail like the Nazi invasions in 1941 and Napoleon in 1812.
Ukraine says it is fighting an imperial-style occupation by Russia and will not stop until the last soldier is expelled.
The war has killed tens of thousands of people, triggered an inflationary wave in the global economy and raised geopolitical tensions to levels not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.