Afisha Picnic, arguably the best and definitely the oldest music festival in Moscow, was held on Saturday. On the surface it was business as usual: two stages, big names in Western and Russian pop and rock music, a gigantic food market, art installations and street theater performances.
But there was one change from the norm: both headliners were Russian language artists — Ivan Dorn and Zemfira. And one of the artists is from Ukraine and the other made a highly publicized gesture at a concert in Tbilisi earlier this month, when she took a Ukrainian national flag from the audience and waved it.
At the entrance to the park a small group of protesters held up banners reading, "Zemfira, you should choose the right flags," "Zemfira, when are you giving a concert in Donetsk?" and even "Zemfira, where's your soul?"
Except for an activist with a Donetsk republic flag who allegedly tried to get on stage, the concerts went without incident. But Ivan Dorn sang a couple of songs in Ukrainian, and his hit song "Mishka Vinoven" (teddy bear is guilty) about infidelity took on a new meaning Saturday night. While a video sequence of an angry bear played he sang, "Teddy bear is guilty, time to run away, teddy bear is guilty, he is a criminal now."
Afisha's decision to headline Zemfira and Dorn was a bold move. Next year at festival time we'll see if has consequences.