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Russian Singer Monetochka's New Song Inspires Emigres to Share Pre-War Memories

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A new song by Russian pop star Monetochka is inspiring Russians to share videos on social media that show what life was like before the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Hundreds of thousands of Russians, including politicians, activists, journalists and artists, have moved abroad since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which has killed thousands of Ukrainians and Russians, sparked a sweeping crackdown on dissent and isolated Russia from the West.

“It Happened in Russia,” the first song on Monetochka’s new album “Prayers. Anecdotes. Toasts,” has gone viral among anti-war emigres since its release last week.

The song’s chorus says: “It happened in Russia, which means it was a long time ago.”

“It happened in Russia, which means it was only a dream. A dream cannot be stolen, it will stay with me,” the lyrics continue.

Hundreds of videos posted to social media include everything from clips of foreigners partying in Moscow during the 2018 FIFA World Cup and late opposition figures Alexei Navalny and Boris Nemtsov to scenes of everyday life.

One video posted on TikTok says “Do you remember the times when famous performers from all over the world came to Russia?” with clips from popular Western bands’ concerts in Russia including Muse, Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons and Fall Out Boy — all of whom no longer perform in Russia. 

In another video, a young man leafs through a book that has blocks of text blacked out, a reflection on Russia’s intensified literary censorship during the war. 

“I remember the times when we thought it was impossible to paint over pieces of text and sell a book that way,” the video’s caption reads. 

Some people — including both Russian emigres and people who stayed in the country — have posted footage of their daily lives and time with their friends and families before the war.

“Russia has stolen from us,” said one comment under an Instagram Reel featuring the song.

Monetochka, who also fled Russia because of her opposition to the war, was designated by Russian authorities as a “foreign agent” in 2023.

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