Yury Shevchuk: ‘I am perfectly ready to give back my awards. But I am not prepared to give up my civic stance.’

14 March

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: News.ru]

DDT leader Shevchuk spoke in an interview with News. ru about his readiness to give up his state awards because of the special operation in Ukraine.

The leader of the DDT band, Yury Shevchuk, told News.ru that Russian artists, who criticize the waging of the Russian Federation’s special operation in  Ukraine, should give up their state awards. The musician expressed his readiness to return his state awards as soon as he finds them but stressed that he is not willing to give up his civic stance. Shevchuk added that he would not leave Russia and would resist if they tried “to kick him out of the country.” This is how the leader of DDT responded to the request of the State Duma deputy, Ekaterina Stenyakina, to the Commission on State Awards with a proposal to take away state awards from those artists and public figures  who have publicly spoken out against the special military operation in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic.

Yury Shevchuk said,  “I am perfectly ready to return my awards. But I am not prepared to give up my civic stance. But, to tell the truth, I don’ t even know where these awards are, I’d have to look for them.” 

The leader of DDT recalled how in 1969, the founder of The Beatles, John Lennon,  who had previously been awarded the Order of the British Empire, sent the medal back  along with an explanatory letter to Queen Elizabeth II at  Buckingham Palace, in protest against England’s policy in the Vietnam war. According to Yury Shevchuk, Russian artists  who speak out against the special operation in Ukraine should also “throw away their awards”.

The musician added he was not going to emigrate and, even if he was chased from Russia, he would challenge the authorities..

Shevchuk explained: “Emigrate to Israel? Why on earth would I? Firstly, I’m not Jewish. But, joking apart, I will resist, even if they kick me out of the country. Because I really do love my homeland. For me, the Motherland is not the government, but good ordinary people and trees. I can kiss birch trees for days, like Sergei Esenin, and write tearful poems. Homeland is a grandmother who does not have enough small change to pay for sausage in the shop. This is the meaning of Motherland for me.

Yury Shevchuk is a National  Artist of the Republic of Bashkortostan and was awarded medals for participating in emergency humanitarian operations by the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Silver Cross by the Ministry of  Internal Affairs and for participating in hostilities in Chechnya. In 2009, Yury Shevchuk became a laureate of the Moscow Helsinki Group Prize in the field of human rights protection in respect of culture and art.

On 11 March State Duma Deputy from the United Russia party Ekaterina Stenyakina  appealed to the chair of the Commission on State Awards, Dmitry Mironov, with a proposal to withdraw state awards and honorary titles from artists who do not support the special operation in Ukraine. In her opinion, “in a situation of sanctions and propaganda against our country, such a rocking of the boat is basically unacceptable and not commensurate with the high status of the awards which they have previously received.” Stenyakina mentioned, in particular, the comedian Maksim Galkin, who was awarded the medal For Faith and Goodness, the Order of Friendship, and the Order of Honour of Kuzbass, and Boris Grebenshchikov, the leader of Aquarium, who was awarded the medial For Merit to the Fatherland Fourth Class.

Earlier, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin had said that cultural figures who oppose the actions of President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine and work in Russian state cultural institutions should vacate their positions . According to this politician, those who take the position of ‘collaborators’ and betray their own people and their state are despised not only in Russia but abroad. However, Liya Akhedzhakova told News.ru she will not resign from the Sovremennik theatre in Moscow even though she remains an opponent of the special military operation in Ukraine.

Translated by Graham Jones

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