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Two Leading Russian Bands Say They Will Not Rock For Putin

Vladimir Shakhrin, the leader of the popular Russian rock group Chaif, says he feels betrayed.
Vladimir Shakhrin, the leader of the popular Russian rock group Chaif, says he feels betrayed.
By Tom Balmforth
MOSCOW -- Three and a half years ago, the rock bands Mashina Vremeni and Chaif led the celebrations for Dmitry Medvedev's election as president with a gala concert on Red Square.

Disillusioned and frustrated, they now they won't be doing the same for Vladimir Putin if, as is widely expected, he wins Russia's presidential elections in March of next year.

"I don't really like what is going on at the moment," Andrei Makarevich, the front man for Mashina Vremeni, tells RFE/RL's Russian Service. "They've already told us who will be president. The problem is not that it is Putin. Rather, it is the feeling that we're being robbed of what was left of our electoral rights."

The revolt of the rockers is just the latest manifestation of discontent regarding Putin's decision to return to the presidency, which was announced at a congress of the ruling United Russia party on September 24. At the same congress, Putin proposed that Medvedev lead United Russia's party list in elections to the State Duma in December and then serve as his prime minister.

The role reversal confirmed a long held belief that Putin handpicked Medvedev in 2008 as a weak successor whom he could easily sweep aside four years later.

Despite proclaiming a desire to continue as president earlier this year, Medvedev now says he and Putin had actually agreed long ago that his mentor would return for a third presidential term.

Mashina Vremeni front man Andrei Makarevich meets with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Rhythm & Blues Cafe in Moscow in October 2010.

This admission was the last straw for Mashina Vremeni and Chaif, both of whom performed at a concert titled "I Choose Russia!" to celebrate Medvedev's March 2008 election.

Vladimir Shakhrin, Chaif's front man, says he now feels particularly betrayed by Medvedev's admission that it had always been the plan for Putin to retake the presidency in 2012.

"I feel like the 2012 elections have already come and gone," he says. "We had hoped for a different story and thought a different outcome was possible. When Dmitry Anatolevich [Medvedev] said that, 'In principle, we decided all of this in 2007,' it just killed me. He should never have said that."

Shakhrin adds that he felt "uncomfortable" when he watched last weekend's televised United Russia's congress, in particular when delegates greeted every statement by Putin and Medvedev with a standing ovation and cheers.

Other manifestations of dissent and discontent have also become visible since Putin's return was announced.

A day after the congress, Russia's long-serving and highly respected finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, told journalists that he would not work in a Medvedev government due to disputes over government spending. In a bid to stamp his authority on the situation, Medvedev quickly called for Kudrin's resignation, which he tendered on September 26. Kudrin is credited with steering Russia out of the global financial crisis of 2008 with his insistence on a conservative fiscal policy.

Moreover, Fyodor Bondarchuk, a prominent film director, spoke frankly at the United Russia congress on September 23, the day before Medvedev and Putin announced their intention to switch places.
 
"We're tired of these endless meetings," Bondarchuk said. "A large part of the population is ready to explode. The situation is boiling over. People are indignant. They are tired of corruption. Have you all lost your minds?"

The video of Bondarchuk's outburst quickly went viral on YouTube:



In a bid to shore up his popularity for the remainder of what is now a lame-duck presidency, Medvedev on September 30 gave a primetime interview to Russia's three federal channels. Explaining his rationale for stepping aside, Medvedev said simply that Putin is more authoritative and wields more popularity.

According to the independent polling organization the Levada Center, both Medvedev and Putin have popularity ratings of more than 60 percent, with Putin generally higher and nearing 70 percent.

Some analysts speculate that Medvedev will play the role of the "fall guy" when he becomes prime minister because he will be responsible for initiating unpopular reforms to Russia's pension and social service system.

Moreover, Russia's resource-dependent country looks increasingly vulnerable as the price of oil falls and a potential global recession looms.

Despite his disillusionment, Makarevich, 57, said he had no regrets about having played at the concert in 2008 in honor of Medvedev.
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"I am probably just incorrigibly naive," he says. "I pinned some hopes on Medvedev."

RFE/RL's Russian Service contributed to this report
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jorjo from: Florida
October 03, 2011 16:20
Both, Mashina Vremeni and Chaif are respected Russian rock bands but they are clearly a thing of the past, neither Makarevich nor Shakhrin have any relevance in the eyes of Russia's younger generation, those under 30. At the same time, younger artists, say VIAGry or Dima Bilan are pure commercial product with calibrated mass appeal and little of substance as well which makes them perfectly suitable to Kremlin. Mashina Vremeni and Chaif may voice their discontent but honestly there are too few years in Russia who will ever notice.

by: Joseph Kobzon from: Birobidjan
October 04, 2011 12:19
After making millions out of their pseudo-rebellious `image` now they will play only for money not for putin.Ha,bloody ha,they are not rockers but mockers.The band who has something to say is DDT,and they`ve been doing it for more than 30 years now.But of course Shevchuk will never fall that low to play for any kgb creep as many western bands and singers did.And JoJo boy you forgot to mention yer fave all time act-good old forever young babushka Alla Balla Emelyan Pugatcheva!!!! shame on ya!!!!

by: vlad from: us - moldova
October 04, 2011 13:06
True DDT was consistent with not cheering for KGB. Still Chaif and Mashina Vremeni have guts to criticize the almighty Putin. It means, as DDT, they will be cut off all radio stations and media, isolated by the Kremlin.
In Response

by: Slava
October 05, 2011 03:56
It seems to take more guts to be in mass media and say these rockers have absurd notions of their stature on political matters.

Then again, you likely won't find such an article at RFE/RL and some other outlets.
In Response

by: Joseph Kobzon from: Kremlin
October 05, 2011 18:42
Dorogoi Sliva from the glorious all-mighty СеСеСеРе.It will take less than a barrel of vodka not to write crap on things you will never understand: In 10 years time Gasputin and his clone the pocket Bear will be remembered as third rate demagogues from the era of Shevchuk.And remember what your countrymen say about yer fave prime sinister and future crazydent;If you live like putins do,that will be the end of you.Ей, Ухнем !!!

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