The war in Ukraine has become a breaking point for two nations. The horrors of the war witnessed by civilians in Ukraine do not leave Russian pacifists indifferent to the situation. They have been protesting on the streets and calling for it to end through social media. In the first days of the war, many Russian celebrities addressed the government and criticized military actions on the territory of Ukraine. These actions made the government introduce new laws enhancing severe prosecution for the war opponents. As a result, more than 15,000 protestors got detained by the police. Some people have fled the country and continue their mission abroad.
The first to organize a charity concert tour was Russian rap singer Oxxxymiron (Miron Fedorov). Through his Instagram handle, he announced the first “Russians against War” concert. It took place in Istanbul on March 15, 2022. Oxxxymiron said he would transfer all the profits from ticket sales to a charity NGO “Fundacja Świętego Mikołaja” in Poland that helps Ukrainian refugees. This was not a way to raise money but also to speak up and draw global attention to the position of the Russian people, whose intentions are different from the government. The initiative got support from singers like Zemfira and Mikhail Grebenshchikov, who joint Oxxxymiron’s concerts in London on March 24, 2022. The concert in Berlin was sold out and had success with the public as well. The singer claimed that all three performances managed to “raise $195,000 to help Ukrainians leaving for Poland because of the insane and criminal war declared by the Russian government”.
Other Russian musicians standing against war and announcing the charity concerts were Monetochka (Elizaveta Girdymova) and Noize MC (Ivan Alekseev). Their charity concert called “Voices of Peace” has already happened in Riga and Vilnius. According to reports, four more similar performances will get held in European capitals. The singers consider it their duty “to openly declare disagreement, and help those whose lives got destroyed by the war”. The proceeds from the concerts accounted for 12,2000 euros and were donated to the charity organization “Fundacja Siepomaga”, helping Ukrainian refugees in Europe.
Russian artists do not stay away from politics and call for peace. They act inside the country and perform their position through art posters on the streets and via the Internet. Elena Osipova, a 76-year-old artist from Saint Petersburg, has become known as the “consciousness of the city” and the symbol of freedom. In the last 20 years, she has been protesting against wars and the Russian government. In March 2022, she participated in many protest actions as an author of opposition posters. She has been detained by police multiple times, but she consistently returns with new ideas against the military actions in Ukraine. Her works represent modern art and often include poems or quotes from Russian authors. On February 24, 2022, Elena Osipova got arrested for the poster with a famous poem by Marina Tsvetaeva, which was initially written about Germany in 1939 to criticize the government. She tries to draw the attention of the other citizens, who do not realize the scale of the tragedy for both countries. At the same time, she emphasizes that she wants the best for future generations, and she has always imagined Russia as “a bird that wants to be peaceful and free”.
Russian illustrators have started to express solidarity with the Ukrainian people from the first days of the war. They depict the Ukrainian flag, symbol, and pigeons as a symbol of peace. The image of Ukrainian and Russian girls holding hands gained much engagement from netizens. The author emphasizes that neither of the two nations supports the war. Even though illustrators get more followers every day, they prefer to stay anonymous, fearing prosecution by the police. Alexandra Skochilenko, a young illustrator from Saint Petersburg, distributed anti-war stickers calling for peace and friendship between the two nations. Her stickers with the statements “Human life has no price” and “Love is stronger than war and death” became popular on the Internet. After joining feminist anti-war resistance, she participated in spreading supermarket price tags containing information about the military invasion of Ukraine. She got imprisoned and is facing up to ten years in prison. However, Alexandra does not regret what she did. She is grateful for the support she gets from people. The war in Ukraine has divided not only two nations but also has brought a split within the Russian society. After Kremlin introduced a “foreign agent law”, the situation became more uncertain. The list of “foreign agents” is expanding as more opponent people and organizations get included. Many talented musicians and artists, who stand up with Ukraine, have to flee Russia. However, their works of art serve as an inspiration for the Russian people in these dark times.
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