Russian celebrity party amid war sparks outrage

A controversial party at a Moscow nightclub featuring semi-naked Russian celebrities, including a rapper wearing only a sock, has sparked a significant backlash amid Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine.

Publication: 28.12.2023 - 16:34
Russian celebrity party amid war sparks outrage
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The event, criticized for its timing and nature, led to immediate repercussions: a 15-day jail sentence for rapper Nikolai Vasilyev, known as Vacio, and severed sponsorship deals for some attendees. President Vladimir Putin and his administration have expressed their displeasure, with Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov avoiding public comment on the scandal.

Authorities and the Public React Strongly

The backlash extended to high-profile figures, with Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, criticizing the participants for tarnishing their reputation. The incident, dominated by negative reactions from pro-Kremlin lawmakers, bloggers, state media, and Orthodox Church groups, overshadowed other news such as rising egg prices and inflation. The party, held on December 21 at Mutabor nightclub and organized by blogger Anastasia (Nastya) Ivleeva, attracted well-known singers and has since led to various public apologies.

Ivleeva, among Russia's most recognized names, faced severe consequences, including the loss of her role as the public face of major Russian mobile operator MTS and a potential five-year jail sentence following a tax investigation. Additionally, a lawsuit demands she pay 1 billion roubles ($10.9 million) for "moral suffering," intending to support Ukraine war veterans if successful. The partygoers' actions have been labeled "cynical" by Yekaterina Mizulina, director of Russia's League for a Safe Internet, especially given the sacrifices of Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

Widespread Apologies and Career Impacts

The scandal prompted numerous apologies from the party's famous attendees, including journalist Ksenia Sobchak, daughter of Putin's late friend and boss Anatoly Sobchak. The incident occurs as Putin emphasizes social conservatism, with recent moves including encouraging large families and designating LGBT activists as "extremists." The event's fallout has resulted in canceled concerts, revoked sponsorships, and removal from a film for some celebrities. The public outcry is particularly strong among supporters of Russia's war in Ukraine, with one woman suggesting that celebrities should fund prosthetic legs for injured soldiers as a more meaningful apology.

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