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USSR Pugacheva against the “Russian world” Putin – DW – 19.09.2022

Alla Pugacheva and Maxim Galkin
Alla Pugacheva and Maxim Galkin Photo: Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS/picture alliance

The famous Soviet and then Russian pop singer Alla Pugacheva, responded in social networks with an open letter to the announcement of her husband Maxim Galkin in the Russian Federation as a “foreign agent”. In her post, Alla Pugacheva demanded that she be recognized as a “foreign agent” as well. In addition, she came out with a clear anti-war position, speaking in favor of “stopping the death of our guys for illusory goalsmaking our country a pariah and making life difficult for our citizens.” Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of Russian President Vladimir Putin, declined to comment on her statement. Why was the Kremlin so afraid?

Pugacheva vs. Putin

Alla Pugacheva – a symbol of the Soviet and Russian stage, openly went against the Russian authorities. Even under Leonid Brezhnev, there was an anecdote that in the distant future, in the encyclopedia, this Soviet general secretary would be called “a major political figure of the Pugacheva era.” Now the question is, will the same thing happen to Vladimir Putin? In fact, we are witnessing a competition: which of the two, a former KGB officer or a singer, who started their careers around the same time under Brezhnev, will be a symbol of the current era.

Ivan Preobrazhensky
Ivan PreobrazhenskyPhoto: Peter Steinmetz/DW

You can joke, as they do in social networks, that the most likely opponent and strong candidate against Putin could be now Maksim Galkin. He is even compared to Vladimir Zelensky. But seriously speaking, we are really talking about a clash of two worlds.

The first is Putin’s “Russian world”, which requires the liquidation of Ukraine, the war to a victorious end, regardless of the victims, and, finally, the construction of a conditional Soviet Union 2.0. Second – real late USSR, who has been horrified by what is happening since the beginning of the war, does not publicly speak out against, but clearly does not support Putin. Now, in the face of Pugacheva, he received an expression of his emotions. Her signal, given on Instagram banned in Russia, was guaranteed to reach the conditional audience of the Odnoklassniki social network, which the liberal intelligentsia had no chance to reach. This is Putin’s nuclear electorate, which is not yet ready to hear about Bucha, but is able to understand the senselessness of the war as a massacre.

Dizzy with hope

The disillusionment and fatigue of Russian society, the feeling of weakness and disunity among the opponents of Putin’s war, appeared in Pugacheva’s statement as in a mirror. It even seems to some that the Russian liberals, losing the authorities step by step, have invested all their hopes for the future in a popular singer.

In reality, most likely, for the first time after the Russian attack on Ukraine, when thousands of people publicly expressed their disagreement, they had the feeling that they were not alone. And the circle of opponents of military aggression is much wider than the narrow intellectual opposition community.

Moreover, Pugacheva also proposed a new language: she outlined Russia’s interests alternative to Putin’s. They are simple and understandable, they are much easier to explain logically than to prove the need for the so-called “special military operation.” Or, say, mobilization, which is called for in Russia by supporters of a war to a victorious end.

Yet the emotional reaction to the statement Alla Pugacheva clearly out of proportion to it. It is not at all a fact that the singer’s statement will have some serious consequences. Moreover, Pugacheva has a rich experience of agreements with various authorities, which in the past allowed her to practically subdue the Russian pop scene.
It is important not to expect a miracle from one post on Instagram, but to note that Pugacheva open transition to anti-war positions, summed up the symbolic line. Both under the old USSR, which is now together with the liberals, and under Putin’s attempt to reincarnate the Soviet Union, against which everyone who wants a future for the country is gradually uniting.

Putin is hopelessly outdated

It took the Kremlin almost a day to gather strength for a retaliatory strike against “Prima Donna”, as the press sometimes calls Pugachev. They didn’t come up with anything more serious than blaming the singer for being outdated. But this argument was good in the 1990s, not now, and besides, it rebounds on Putin himself. Against its background, as it turns out, even deeply “Soviet” Pugachev and Maxim Galkin look fresh and relevant. They call people to the future, while Putin only talks about the ideal past. The methods used are not even Soviet ones. Recall, for example, Ramzan Kadyrov’s appeal to the governors on how to gather militias for the war with Ukraine in the era of feudal fragmentation.

This is how outdated, in comparison with Russian society as a whole, and Pugacheva in particular, it turns out, Vladimir Putin himself, which he needs to be protected from a pop singer? In vain the Kremlin has now raised this topic. It could be a self-disclosure session.

Author: Ivan Preobrazhensky, candidate of political sciences, expert on Central and Eastern Europe, columnist for a number of media. Writer of a weekly column for DW. Ivan Preobrazhensky on Facebook: Ivan Preobrazhensky

The comment expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the opinion of the Russian editors and Deutsche Welle in general.

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