Roger Waters concerts canceled in Poland after letter to Olena Zelenska

Roger Waters concerts canceled in Poland after letter to Olena Zelenska

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters is embroiled in controversy in Poland, where his comments that partly blame Ukraine’s political establishment for Russia’s invasion appear to have led to the cancellation of two of his concerts in Krakow.

Waters, the rock musician best known for his work on Pink Floyd’s 1979 album ‘The Wall’, was scheduled to perform in Krakow on April 21-22 as part of his solo farewell tour, dubbed “This is not a drill”.

But venues canceled performances following an exchange Waters had with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska in recent weeks – with Waters also facing potential censorship from Krakow City Council after a member submitted a proposal to declare him persona non grata.

Waters, who speaks frequently on foreign policy issues and is no stranger to controversy because of it, said in a statement on Saturday that the cancellation of his Polish shows would be “a sad loss for me.”

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In early September, Waters published an open letter addressed to Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In it, Waters professed his disbelief at his assertion to the BBC that increased support for Ukraine would end the war more quickly.

“I guess it might depend on what you mean by ‘support for Ukraine’? If by ‘support for Ukraine’ you mean that the West continues to supply arms to the armies of the government in kyiv, I fear you are tragically mistaken,” he wrote.

Waters went on to accuse the United States of having a vested interest in prolonging the war and said “extreme nationalists” in Ukraine were violating “a number of red lines that had been clearly defined over many years by your neighbors the Russians”. Federation,” putting Ukraine “on the path to this disastrous war” — a statement that many interpreted as blaming the victims.

Zelenska responded on Twitter that Waters should “ask [Russian President Vladimir Putin] for peace. Not Ukraine.

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Waters regularly espouses inflammatory political views. More recently, a video played during his concerts called President Biden a “war criminal”.

In contrast, Pink Floyd, who Waters left during an acrimonious breakup in the mid-1980s, released a single this year in support of Ukraine, “Hey Hey Rise Up,” his first new music in more than two decades. . The song features Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk singing a Ukrainian anthem, and the proceeds from its sale have been earmarked for humanitarian aid.

Poland has been one of the staunchest defenders of Ukraine – with which it shares a border – since the Russian invasion. It has taken in by far the largest number of Ukrainian refugees in Europe and has pledged or donated aid to Kyiv at levels comparable to or, in some cases, greater than pledges made by countries with much stronger economies.

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On Sunday, entertainment platform Live Nation Polska and concert hall Tauron Arena Krakow said in a joint one-line statement that they had “cancelled the Roger Waters concert”. They gave no reason, and some Polish media reported that Waters’ manager had decided to step down. Waters denied those rumors in his statement on Sunday.

Krakow City Council was due to vote this week on a proposal to declare Waters persona non grata, The Associated Press reported. The motion was submitted by councilor Lukasz Wantuch, who Deutsche Welle said had previously written on social media that it “would be a disgrace to our city” if Waters was allowed to perform there. “Let him sing in Moscow,” he reportedly added.

Wantuch did not respond to a Washington Post request for comment Monday morning.

“If Mr. Łukasz Wantuch achieves his goal and my upcoming concerts in Krakow are cancelled, it will be a sad loss for me,” Waters said in his statement. “I looked forward to sharing my message of love with the people of Poland, which I have done on numerous tours in a career that has spanned more than fifty years.”

War in Ukraine: what you need to know

The last: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in an address to the nation on September 21, describing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to ” divide and destroy Russia”. .” Follow our live updates here.

The fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a major Russian retreat into the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled towns and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large quantities of military equipment.

Annexation referendums: Organized referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are set to take place September 23-27 in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another organized referendum will be organized by the Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson from Friday.

Pictures: Washington Post photographers have been in the field since the start of the war. Here are some of their most powerful works.

How you can help: Here’s how those in the United States can help support the people of Ukraine as well as what people around the world have donated.

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