Russian pop stars have teamed up with their fellow artists from Belarus to record a patriotic music video in support of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has faced unprecedented protests since his disputed re-election last month.
The music video, titled “Artists for Peace – Don’t Give Away Your Loved One,” was uploaded to Belarusian singer Aurora’s YouTube channel Thursday. The song title references Lukashenko’s Aug. 4 campaign address in which he referred to Belarus as a “loved one you don’t give away.”
“Just know that you don’t give away your loved one,” Russian household names Filipp Kirkorov, Nikolai Baskov, Anita Tsoi, Alexander Buinov and others sing in the music video.
“Belarusians, we are a force,” the Russian and Belarusian singers continue amid a mixture of studio shots and aerial footage of wheat fields, marshes and Belarusian Orthodox Church domes.
The video was uploaded with comments disabled, as well as likes and dislikes invisible to viewers.
Kirkorov’s spokesperson later told the Open Media news website that “the artist didn’t perform any songs in Lukashenko’s support.”
Buinov’s representative said he had agreed to record the song in order to collaborate with Kirkorov and Baskov and was unaware that the chorus contained Lukashenko’s quote.
Opinion polls show a plurality of support among Russians for Lukashenko and his heavy-handed actions in the wake of mass demonstrations against his 26-year rule.
A number of high-profile opposition figures in Belarus, including Nobel Literature Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, have called out “the Russian intelligentsia” for its perceived silence toward the authorities' violent crackdown.
A handful of Russian artists had refused to perform at state-sponsored concerts on the eve of Belarus’ Aug. 9 vote following social media pleas from Belarusians to avoid implicitly backing Lukashenko.
On Friday, Russian YouTube star Yury Dud released an interview with the founder of Belarus' Nexta Telegram channel, one of the leading sources of news and protest coordination for the Belarusian opposition. Dud has previously publicly criticized the Belarusian authorities' crackdown on protesters.