Faced with war, the torments of a Viennese group of Russian folklore

Can we continue to surf on Soviet nostalgia since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and call ourselves Russkaja, wonders the popular group created in Vienna 17 years ago.

Can we continue to surf on Soviet nostalgia since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and call ourselves Russkaja? This is the thorny question posed by a popular group created in Vienna 17 years ago and caught up in the war.

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In the small town of Kapfenberg, 150 km southwest of Vienna, where the band of friends, six guys and a girl, gave a concert at the end of April, the atmosphere was festive. Ska punk, Balkan turbo folk, texts in Russian or English and logo in the shape of a red gray star: the group, made up of several nationalities, is the image of Viennese cosmopolitanism, a joyful mix of cultures. Russkaja, a regular on ORF public television, has displayed a popular style of music since the 1990s, from Vienna to Belgrade via Prague and Bucharest. But Georgi Makazaria, a singer from Moscow who came to Austria as a teenager just after the fall of the wall, confides the doubts that have gripped his training since the start of the offensive.

We worried to what extent we could represent something Russian“In the current context, explains to AFP the 48-year-old artist, behind his big graying beard, before going on stage. “It’s obvious that some song lyrics that sounded festive suddenly changed their meaning.he says. “It sticks in my throat to sing “the Russians are here”“, he cites as an example.

Exit therefore certain expressions replaced by a firm condemnation of a conflict “foolish“for this group that has always celebrated”peace and love», Title of one of his six albums. “Hello, Moskva, let’s stop this “fucking” war“, now intones Gueorgui Makazaria, also known for having participated in the Austrian version of “Dancing with the stars”.

“Very difficult”

What is happening now is a disaster“Launches the interpreter to the public, in front of a large Ukrainian flag. At his side, the Ukrainian bassist Dimitrij Miller, who has accompanied him since the beginning of the adventure, says he has trouble finding the energy to “entertain the audience” while “his cousin just joined the front line“. “For me, it’s very hard to ensure the atmosphere on stage while my loved ones are in combat“, he admits. Especially since the signs of hostilities have multiplied. Russkaya, who was on a US tour in March, shortly after Vladimir Putin launched the assaultremembers the middle finger and the turned back of a spectator one evening, in Oklahoma.

On social networks, some Internet users are indignant that a group glorifying Russian culture is still being allowed to play, while the conflict has caused massive deprogramming of Russian personalities and cultural events in Western countries.

Confused, the members, whose friendship did not explode in flight, thought for a time of finding a less frankly identifiable name, before saying to themselves that they had to assume. In the crowd in leather jackets, beer in hand, Markus Heil “don’t see where the problem is“. “It would be completely off the mark to boycott» artists exporting Russian culturetold AFP this enthusiastic fan.

The vast majority of music lovers abound. “Whether you are from Ukraine or Russia, music brings you together“Said Daniel Mayerhofer, a 38-year-old tattoo artist who demanded a dedication on his right buttock. “Do we still have the right to be happy? Is there still room for joy? I think soconcludes Georgi Makazaria. “We have to find a way to express it even if it’s difficult for us, I say it frankly“.

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Faced with war, the torments of a Viennese group of Russian folklore


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