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September 25, 2017
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Czech Republic: ROMEA calls for boycott of performances by Romani group and Russian military ensemble, rejects Russian propaganda

14.5.2017 9:35
The
The "Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Russian Army named after A. V. Alexandrov", 2017. (PHOTO: official Facebook page)

On 11 May the "Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Russian Army named after A. V. Alexandrov", also known as the Red Army Ensemble, performed in Zlín, Czech Republic. This was the first of 10 appearances scheduled around the Czech Republic as part of their European tour, and they are being accompanied by a special guest performer, the band GIPSY 4 EVER, featuring lead singer Xavier Padilla from the legendary but now defunct Gipsy Kings band.    

We at ROMEA believe adding this Romani band to the program is a tactic designed to deflect attention away from the voices raising objections to the policies of Putin's Russia and its demonstrations of military power. The songs that roll forth from the hundred-plus throats in the choir are not an innocent, nostalgic, patriotic collection of lyrics from the past.

These uniformed singers reflect Russia's current geopolitical interests. When, for example, Russian occupied Crimea three years ago, the Alexandov Ensemble performed a song about "decent people who protect the glory and honor of the Russian homeland", celebrating the otherwise unmarked Russian soldiers who were invading the Crimean peninsula and the east of Ukraine. 

As an organization that brings together Czech people, Romani people, and other citizens and residents of the Czech Republic, as an organization involved with seeing that human rights are observed, with combating discrimination against Romani people, and with combating all racism in the Czech Republic, we at ROMEA consider the participation of this avowedly Romani band, GIPSY 4 EVER, in this tour to be an indirect expression of agreement with the political interests advocated by the current Putin Government and the means chosen by that Government to promote those interests. Those means include Russia supporting the creation of many anti-establishment, demagogic websites in the Czech-language internet environment which, in addition to pieces promoting the current regime in the Kremlin, primarily contain anti-refugee and anti-Romani hoaxes.

There is indisputable documentation of the fact that dozens of these disinformation servers are financially connected to the Russian Federation in particular. Given that we do not consider the Alexandrov Ensemble to be an ordinary musical ensemble, but a Russian military propaganda tool which, through the art of its dance and music serves to promote and "smooth over" the ugly facts surrounding Russia's aggression, we are calling on the members of the band GIPSY 4 EVER to realize the connections we have described here, which disagree with fundamental human values, and to consider whether to continue their collaboration with this ensemble.  

The band GIPSY 4 EVER, in our opinion, is just becoming a tool of Russian Government propaganda by accompanying the Alexandrov Ensemble - and the propagandists will not hesitate to call this boycott of that ensemble, paradoxically, an "anti-Romani" action and to call those of us who are protesting against them  "fascists" or "racists". We reject this combination of Romani culture and Russian propaganda and we call not just on Romani people, but on all citizens of the Czech Republic not to attend the Alexandrov Ensemble's tour here. 

Jitka Votavová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Apel, boycott, Culture, Russia



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