A singer who represented Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest has been the subject of an online smear campaign for her opposition to the war in Ukraine.
Manizha Sangin – who placed ninth in the international music competition last year – has long been a vocal critic of the invasion. In February, she shared a Instagram post calling the war a “brotherly conflict” that goes “against the will” of the Russian people, and later released a song called “Soldier” which contained the repeated lyrics “Stop the war”.
Now Sangin’s critics have launched a coordinated campaign to blacklist the singer in Russia. According BBC, Sangin’s management team and promoters have received “numerous threats”, particularly in reference to the singer’s planned performance at the Aleksandrovskaya Fortress festival in September.
The festival, which celebrates the Cossack culture of Ukraine and southern Russia, was referenced in a post on the Telegram messaging platform. The post shared the phone number and address of the festival organizers and urged users to “write down” and “demand the cancellation of Manizha’s performance.”
The organizers of the Aleksandrovskaya Fortress confirmed that they “did indeed receive a significant amount of negative emails and calls” regarding Sangin, but pledged to keep the singer on the festival poster since her position on peace “is the very essence of our festival”.
While Sangin has retained her spot at the Aleksandrovskaya Fortress despite the online campaign, the singer has also been removed from the lineup of two separate Russian music events: the Stereoleto festival in St. Petersburg and an event at the Glavclub nightclub in Moscow. .
Meanwhile, Russian magazine Sobaka.ru published its cover story on Sangin this week, in line with its inclusion in a unofficial list of “blacklisted artists” which circulated among Russian media companies in June.
A spokesperson for Sangin, whose fiancé is half-Ukrainian, said the source of the smear campaigns is unknown, but suggested they may have been carried out by intolerant people in Sangin’s birthplace, Tajikistan. . The spokesperson also said the campaigns may have been perpetrated by “people who support the special military campaign in Ukraine.”
“Of course there are fears,” Sangin’s spokesperson added, “but she would like to continue working and living in Russia.”
Sangin participated in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, where she scored 204 points for her performance of her own song titled “Russian Woman”. The song’s lyrics were criticized by some Russian bodies for inspiring “hate towards men”, but the country’s investigative commission later found that “Russian Woman” contained no “illegal statements”.
The news comes after the winners of this year’s competition – Ukrainian rap group Kalush Orchestra – auctioned off their Eurovision trophy in May, to raise money to buy drones for Ukraine’s ongoing war against Russia.