Troitsky Remains Cautiously Optimistic
Russian rock and roll’s leading critic weighs in on Ukraine and what it means for the Russian music scene.
Published: April 23, 2014 (Issue # 1807)
Celebrity music journalist and promoter Artemy Troitsky has been known for his civic stance for the most of his career, which started in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. Most recently, he was one of the spokesmen of the protest movement in Russia in 2011 and 2012, a supporter of feminist punk band Pussy Riot, with whom he hosted a session at Tallinn Music Week late last month, and of the Maidan protest movement in Ukraine, where he spoke and performed as a DJ in Dec. 2013. He sat down with The St. Petersburg Times to share his views on the current political situation during his one-day visit to the city on Apr. 16.
Related: Rock Critic Troitsky Ready to ‘Protect the People’
Q: You spoke and performed as a DJ at Maidan protest camp. What was that like?
A: I performed at Maidan on Sunday, Dec. 15, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., at a prime time in the day, as a DJ on the main stage there. It was after the Nov. 30 [Berkut police attacks] and it was perhaps Maidan’s most inspired moment, when literally hundreds of thousands of people were there. There were no signs of violence in the air, and, quite the opposite, Maidan looked like a huge cathedral where people were praying, singing songs and being happy. There was an extraordinary enthusiasm reigning. I visited Maidan at perhaps its happiest hour.
I know a huge number of Ukrainian musicians, mostly rock musicians with whom I’ve been friends for a long time. I also know some Ukrainian painters and writers. I don’t know any politicians, though, but I have good relationships with people in Kiev. Honestly, I’ve never been to Western Ukraine and very rarely to Eastern Ukraine. But Kiev is one of my favorite cities and I have many good friends there.
Q: You’ve been included in the list of “national traitors” on a pro-Kremlin website for your statement in support of Ukraine, alongside musicians Andrei Makarevich and Yury Shevchuk. What do you think about the current situation in Russia?
A: It’s not very easy for me to speak about what’s happening now. There are some things which are open to debate and there are some that are indisputable. The situation in Crimea is one of those debatable subjects. On one hand, I understand the historical perspective and I understand that Crimea’s population is mostly ethnic Russian. It also looks as if the Crimeans are happy to join Russia for the most part. In my view, however, the way it was done does not stand up to scrutiny. You don’t need to be a lawyer or diplomat to understand that Russia just used a convenient opportunity and violated lots of laws in the process. It’s clear that the referendum had no legal grounds, because it was held on the territory of Ukraine but without the consent of the country itself. It was held with the support of those notorious “little green men” [Russian troops without insignias], which is more than strange for the expression of free will which a referendum should represent. I don’t think there was ever a referendum that took two weeks from start to finish in the history of mankind. Referendums on Catalonia and Scotland have been in preparation for years. But I’ll repeat, [Crimea] is a debatable question, there are arguments for and against it.
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