Thursday, January 19, 2012

Russia: Russian Singers To Perform In Concert For Political Prisoners

Aleksei Kortnev performs at a benefit concert in May. Photo: RIA Novostni

RFE/RL Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Russian Singers To Perform In Concert For Political Prisoners

MOSCOW -- Russian human rights activists plan to hold a concert next month to raise money to support political prisoners after holding a "For Fair Elections" march in Moscow, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Prominent Russian writer Viktor Shenderovich, veteran bard singer Yuly Kim, and pop musician Aleksei Kortnev will take part in a "For Your and Our Liberty!" concert in Moscow's Mir (Peace) concert hall on February 4 after the anti-Kremlin march.

A concert organizer, Mikhail Kriger, told RFE/RL that it would be the sixth such concert organized by Russian rights activists over the years. Kriger said the February concert will be a bit different than the others because the "political situation in the country is different."

"Not just several hundreds of people are demanding the release of political prisoners now, but tens of thousands," Kriger said. "The demand is explicitly shown in the resolutions of mass protests held on December 10 and 24. All money raised at the concert will be used to help political prisoners. How the donations are spent can be tracked on"

Kortnev told RFE/RL that he agreed to take part in the upcoming concert because his "old friend" Shenderovich and the "legendary" singer Kim -- who he "adores as a man and as a poet" -- are taking part.

"There are very different people behind bars now," Kortnev said. "There are many among them whose political views I cannot agree with -- for instance, there are nationalists and national-Bolsheviks. But I will go and sing at the concert because I sincerely think that people should not be sent to jail because of their political views."

Kortnev said he is not against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who will be a candidate in the March 4 presidential election four years since last holding the post, but said he opposes "the absence of choice."

"In the current political situation no evolutionary changes are possible," Kortnev said. "In this situation no new political leader can arise and develop. We have only one choice: to refresh that atmosphere."

Tens of thousands of Russians protested in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities and towns in December against alleged fraud in the parliamentary and general elections held on December 4.

Putin was barred by the constitution from a third consecutive term, but most observers continue to regard him as the country's unrivaled political leader and a favorite to win the March vote.

Read more in Russian here