Tajik-Born Russian Singer Dropped From Festival After Criticizing War Against Ukraine

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Tajik-born Russian singer Manizha, who has openly protested Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, has been removed from the list of performers at the upcoming Stereoleto song festival in St. Petersburg, scheduled for June 12-13.

Manizha, who represented Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest last year, wrote on Instagram on June 7 that her performance had been canceled at the festival, but did not give any further details.

The festival's organizers said on social media that Manizha's performance was scrapped "due to reasons that do not depend on us."

The founder of the festival, Ilya Bortnyuk, said the decision was "mutual," and "right in the current situation."

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Manizha has made several public statements calling for an end to what she called "a fratricidal war," that was launched by Russia "against her will."

She has also called for peace talks and expressed her opinion opposing the isolation of Russian culture from world’s events.

Her public statements sparked calls by many in Russia, including lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, to remove Manizha from the festival.

Earlier, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic House cancelled a performance by Vasily Sinaisky's orchestra after Sinaisky issued a public statement condemning the war in Ukraine.

Manizha was born in Tajikistan in 1991. Her family moved to Russia during the Central Asian country's 1992-97 civil war.

Last year, after she was chosen to represent Russia at Eurovision in Rotterdam, many ultranationalist groups in Russia openly protested against her nomination, citing her ethnic background.

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