Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, leader of the band “Okean Elzy,” has responded to accusations of nationalism. His response, written in Russian, is posted on his Twitter blog, Espreso.TV reports.
“Who do you think is a nationalist?” he asks. “If that is the person whose favorite writer is Chekhov, then yes, I am a nationalist. If it is the person whose favorite song was “Shine, shine my star,” then I’m a nationalist,” he writes.
In his post Vakarchuk points out that he used to have a Jewish girlfriend, that he loves St. Petersburg as much as his native city, that he has many friends in Moscow, and also that the Okean Elzy group has two Serbs and a Russian-Tatar.
“If someone who loves his country is a nationalist, then I am that person. Well, what do you think? Who am I? And who are you?” the singer concludes.
It should be noted that the Okean Elzy concert tour in Russia is in jeopardy. On February 24, the deputy of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, Vitaliy Milonov, asked the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Medinsky, to ban concerts by the group in Russia, citing their so-called “fundamental anti-Russian stance.” Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovksy issued a similar request on February 25.
The group’s manager declined to comment on the statements by the Russian politicians. The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation also dodged the issue. “Neither Milonov nor Zhirinovsky approached us,” the ministry stated.
Translated by Anna Mostovych, edited by Robin Rohrback