A concert planned by the Slovenian band Laibach in Kyiv on 31 March has been cancelled. The band confirmed on 27 February that the organiser decided to cancel the event because its announcement had caused too much controversy in Ukraine.
Laibach, the subversive industrial rock band, say they had been confronted with the categorical demand to explicitly state that all Russians are bad and that all Russian art is worthless, which is something they could not agree to.
The local organiser of the concert announced on social media that the event, meant to take place at the Bel Etage Music Hall in Kyiv, had been cancelled due to a heated controversy about the band’s views on the causes of the war in Ukraine.
“In order not to divide Ukrainians into different camps, and to remove the cause of discord, we decided to cancel the Laibach concert in Bel Etage,” the organiser wrote on Facebook.
“Despite the fact that the band expressed support for Ukraine and Ukrainians and condemned the Russian regime, a significant part of the audience expressed categorical opposition to Laibach’s arrival,” the organiser wrote in the post.
Ukrainians were divided in the face of Laibach’s claims that the current war is a geopolitical conflict between Russia and the US on Ukrainian territory.
The Guardian quoted the group as saying the conflict in Ukraine was “a cynical proxy war for the geostrategic interests of the superpowers and financial capital (of the military industry, etc)”.
Many Ukrainian comments on Facebook likened this position to that of Russian state propaganda, which is portraying the “special military operation” as a conflict with NATO and is reducing Ukraine to a puppet of the West.
Laibach announced the concert in the Ukrainian capital last week, saying all the proceeds would be donated to charity.
After the critical commentaries in Ukraine, Laibach posted a message to Facebook three days ago saying it is not coming to Ukraine “to be the first, second or third group to perform in your capital during the war, as some media reported, but to clearly express support for your country in this war”.
“We must stress here that some of our statements, which may not have been in line with your thinking, were never intended to offend you in any way or to diminish the importance of your just struggle. Since the first days of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, we have taken an unequivocal position and reiterated that there is no place for war in a modern society.
“Geopolitical issues cannot be resolved by armed attack and political incitement. We also immediately cancelled all planned appearances in Russia and in all interviews condemned Russia’s aggression in this war,” the band added.
“Not to be mistaken – we love Russian literature, music and art…and we always will. But in this senseless war between Russia and Ukraine, we are wholeheartedly on the side of Ukraine and its people, who – as in the old biblical story of David and Goliath – are fighting with dignity against a stronger enemy,” Laibach moreover wrote.