Andrey Makarevich: “Fountains are working in Slovyansk, children ride bicycles”
The musician told Radio Liberty about his trip to the Ukrainian city of Slovyansk and his concert for children and Ukrainian refugees in Svyatogorsk.
On August 12, the Russian musician visited the Donbass region, freed from separatists, on invitation of the Ukrainian Volunteer Foundation.
Mr. Makarevich is well known for his active anti-Kremlin stance that provokes severe criticism and even abuse in the Russian media. For instance, the Russian edition of "Komsomolskaya Pravda" published an article on his trip to the Ukraine titled: "Singing for butchers: Andrey Makarevich to perform in the cities taken by Ukrainian troops".
In his interview to Radio “Liberty” Mr. Makarevich answered whether he felt safe in Russia, when the military conflict could end and how Slovyansk looked.
There is music in the square, the fountains are working, children ride bicycles.
The city is living a normal life, people are coming back. The setting is absolutely peaceful. In three weeks, all put in order.
The city recovers quickly enough. The center has been almost restored, and on the outskirts there are still serious damages – near the plant, where a bridge over the river was blown. There one can really see how serious it was. The city itself has suffered to a lesser extent. Therefore, the people managed to put it in order in such a short time.
The city has a normal life, the people are coming back. The setting is absolutely peaceful. In three weeks, everything was put in order.
About the way to Ukraine
I readily agreed to this proposal. It was difficult to find the time. And it was quite difficult to build the correct route. After all, it is 100 km from Kharkiv. Planes do not fly there from Moscow, the airspace is closed. Planes don't fly regularly even from Kyiv to Kharkiv nowadays. That's why we have thought for a long time, how we could get there. We had to fly to Belgorod, and then take a car to Kharkiv. From there we got to Svyatogors by car as well. However, everything went well.
There were no incidents on the way. However, traveling to the territories where military actions are going on was not my task.
I did not have long communication with the locals, for a very simple reason. You know perfectly well that as soon as you arrive - all pounce on you, start giving thanks, take pictures with you and only then take autographs. Everyone is pushed away by hundreds of others. It is very difficult to communicate in such circumstances.
On the refugee camp and the work of volunteers
I visited the camp (in Svyatogorsk – ed.). It has very decent conditions. There are no shortages in anything, I have seen it with my own eyes. Of course, there may also be other camps. About 100,000 refugees are scattered across different parts of the Ukraine, and I cannot assert that all of them are alright.
I was treated very well. The people were very grateful. Volunteers work very good. They are not associated with the government, they do a lot of useful things. In particular, prior to my arrival they gathered three trucks of humanitarian aid to these camps.
There are some local voluntary funds, and in everyday life there are also different people - both students and businessmen. I loved it. They work very professionally, very smoothly. Probably because of the hard experience they have had these times. I have the warmest feelings for them.
Concert and children
I sang for the children. It was a very large room filled with refugee children aged anywhere from 8 to 14 years.
I sang for the children. It was a very large room filled with refugee children aged 8-14 years. Three weeks passed, and, in my opinion, these children are no different from other ones.
I sang three songs: "Fire", "Three windows" and "There is a little more light than dark in the world".
Three weeks passed, and, in my opinion, these children are in no way different from others. Perhaps, when they got out of there, they looked different. I know that psychologists worked with many of them. However, they didn't tell me any tragic things.
About haunting in Russia
This is the attitude of the official press, not the Russian society. Their reputation is known to everyone. They are serve the state, working on the principle "as you please." They have always worked so, both during the Soviet era, and now. There is nothing new here. I just don't read them.
So far, I have meet only with people who support me. That I have never come across those who tried to express something negative to me. There were no such people. And there are many people who support me.
Does Mr. Makarevich feel safe in Russia?
It is difficult to feel safe in the world today. The world is in a precarious phase. But it is better to think positive. I always do so.
How will it all end?
I always hope for the better. It is difficult to make any predictions. After all, tomorrow never knows.
In February the Russian singer Andrey Makarevich spoke out strongly against the Russian military intervention in Ukraine.
His position on the Ukrainian event was not unexpected. Back in summer of 2012, the musician wrote an open letter to Vladimir Putin, which drew attention to the tremendous level of corruption in the country. The Russian president answered to the musician on the site of the same newspaper "Moskovsky Komsomolets" where the letter was published. Before this, Andrey Makarevich condemned the verdict to Pussy Riot.
Recently Mr. Makarevich has recorded several songs related to political issues, including "Putin goes to Kholuyovo" and "SWAT Waltz". The songs were included in an album with the speaking title "Chronicle of Current Events". A samizdat bulletin with such a title was issued in the Soviet Union.
Andrey Makarevich often attends democratic rallies. He is an activist of the campaign "Control Walk".
March 15, Mr. Makarevich participated in a demonstration against the war in Ukraine.