Since starting her career in the mid-1960s, Pugacheva has sold more than 250 million records. In 1991, she was awarded the title of “People’s Artist of the USSR” – the highest possible honor for a musician. She also received the highest awards from the Russian Federation. Politico wrote that Pugacheva “is as beloved as America’s sweetheart Dolly Parton, as ubiquitous as Madonna, as closely watched as Kardashian.”
On Friday, Russia’s Ministry of Justice added Pugacheva’s husband, comedian, singer and television host Maksim Galkin, to its “foreign agents” register. Galkin, who was born in Odesa, was accused of carrying out political activities on behalf of Ukraine and receiving Ukrainian funding. He denied the charges.
This prompted Pugacheva to ask the Ministry of Justice to add her name to the list of foreign agents in an Instagram post on Sunday:
“I am asking you to put me on the list of foreign agents of my beloved country,” Pugacheva told the Ministry of Justice. “Because I stand in solidarity with my husband, who is an honest and ethical person, a true and incorruptible patriot of Russia, who only wants prosperity, peace and freedom of speech in his homeland.” Pugacheva said.
She added that Galkin wanted “an end to the deaths of our boys for illusory purposes that make our country a pariah and severely affect the lives of its citizens.”
The official news agency RIA Novosti, citing an unnamed source in law enforcement, reported on Tuesday that the Ministry of Internal Affairs had received a request to investigate Pugachev for discrediting the Russian army. The source said a Russian woman had filed a complaint against Pugachev at a Moscow police station, but did not say whether police had opened an investigation.
Those designated as “foreign agents” must display this designation on all published content, including social media posts. They are also subject to additional government controls, particularly over their finances. Any violation of the complex rules may result in criminal liability.
The law was first introduced in response to protests against Putin’s return to the presidency in the 2012 election. This designation is used to target individuals and organizations that oppose Kremlin policies.
After Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the authorities introduced even tougher measures to suppress dissent, imposing fines and prison terms. In early March, Putin signed legislation that provides up to 15 years in prison for allegedly publishing false information about the military.
Galkin has been an outspoken critic of the war, condemning the atrocities committed by Russian troops and declaring that there is no justification for the invasion of Ukraine. CNN reported that in an Instagram post on Saturday, Galkin reacted to his appointment as a foreign agent:
“The basis of this decision was that I allegedly received funds from Ukraine, for which I carried out political activities. Well, first of all, I’m not involved in politics. From the stage in my concerts, I deal with the humorous genre, political satire, and I have been doing it for 28 years.
“I don’t sell my opinion and my thoughts and I don’t buy someone else’s,” he added. “I don’t sell my conscience. As for Ukraine, once, well, 10 years ago, when I gave a concert there, I received money, but for many years I have not received a penny from Ukraine, so of course the reason is far away and I don’t know why happening now.”
Galkin and Pugacheva left Russia for Israel with their twins in March. Pugacheva has retired from performing, but Galkin continues to tour abroad with his stand-up show, which includes his impression of Putin.
Pugacheva returned to Russia last month to enroll her children in school, while Galkin remained abroad. She attended a farewell ceremony for late Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and said in an Instagram post that she had “not cried like that in a long time”. Her post was an implicit criticism of Putinism.
“The EPOCH in which we gained freedom ceased to be an ‘evil empire’ for the whole world, and fear for the future of our children has disappeared,” Pugacheva wrote, adding that Gorbachev “rejected violence as a form of politics. and retained his power.”
Pugacheva’s comments criticizing the war in Ukraine are a clear insult to the Kremlin leadership. Putin has embraced her several times, but has never publicly endorsed her.
So the question now is whether her comments will in any way influence public opinion in Russia about the war. A leading figure in Russian music, Artemy Troitsky, who left the country in 2014 because of his opposition to Putin, told the BBC that her intervention was significant.
“Her fame is monumental and she’s a legendary figure. I think it’s something that a lot of people expected from her a while ago, because her husband Maxim Galkin has already made his anti-war statements several times and several months ago.
“I think this is her first strong political statement, and that in itself is, of course, quite shocking for the Russian people. I think she is not the only one who can change public opinion. The obvious offensive of the Russian army and the Ukrainian army and the deterioration of the economic situation and so on, all these factors work against Putin and against the war.
“But I think that morally and emotionally, this statement by Alla Pugacheva is perhaps one of the strongest efforts in these directions.”
On Monday, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov was asked about Pugacheva’s comments. He told reporters: “I’m not going to comment on this topic at all. I don’t think it’s an issue that has anything to do with the Kremlin.
But such criticism of the war in Ukraine from one of Russia’s most famous people has sparked an intense reaction on social media, and it could be a watershed moment if her voice breaks through the wall of propaganda.
The Latvian-based Russian-language news site Meduza also named the foreign agent and published a reaction to Pugacheva’s Instagram post.
Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Pyotr Tolstoy said:
“It’s a shame that Pugacheva, once the country’s most popular singer, has lost touch with reality so much that she stands in solidarity with people who want Russia to be defeated. Now she is in the history museum dedicated to the USSR.
“Perhaps the saddest thing that can happen to an artist is to stop identifying with his country and people and to fall out of the history of his homeland. … She will not become a foreign agent and will not find support among decent Russian people. We will win without her songs.
Opposition politician Lev Schlossberg said:
“The variety of reactions of different public representatives to Alla Pugacheva’s statements reflects people’s growing fatigue with government policies and complete ignorance of the future. ..
For a rational government, this would serve as a signal to reassess and rethink its actions, but there is no reason to expect this from Russia at the moment: the system is not oriented towards adapting its policy to society’s requirements.
“However, the interesting thing about the situation surrounding Pugacheva’s statement is that it was undoubtedly heard by both the elite and the general public. The reactions of sympathy and direct support show which way the tide of public opinion is turning.
Vladimir Solovyov, head of Russian state television, said:
“Alla Pugacheva dramatically stood up for Maxim Galkin, who was named as a foreign agent, threw out the name of Russia and collected money for Ukraine.
“Because she imagines this, everyone should burst into tears, admiring her courage and immediately forgive Maximus. I really hope that doesn’t happen.
“Age does not always mean wisdom. Sometimes it just means age.
Oleksiy Arestovich, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said:
“The rebellion of such a famous person as Alla [Pugacheva] against the Putin system means: undermining the legitimacy of the guiding mythology of the Putin regime; Undermining the master narrative that justifies this war; An explosion at the center of the self-awareness of the citizens who form the basis of the legitimacy of the Putin regime; The beginning of the end of this regime.
Here, Pugacheva performs one of her biggest hits, “Millions of Scarlet Roses”.