May 24, 2022

An Anthem of Dissent


An Anthem of Dissent
Fofanov playing piano near the Tura River. Screenshot of Fofanov from Twitter.

In early May, on the embankment of the Tura River in Tyumen, Russian businessman and pianist Vladimir Fofanov was arrested for playing the Ukrainian national anthem.

A video of the incident, posted after the arrest, shows Fofanov calmly playing the piano as passersby largely ignore him. Fofanov's protest comes across as understated and nonconfrontational.

Fofanov was held for 14 days by the Central District Court of Tyumen and was found guilty of propagating Nazi imagery. The prosecution claimed that Fofanov was also shouting slogans for banned far-right organizations, though there is no evidence of that in the video. His punishment was not disclosed, but he agreed with the state's charges against him and assured the court that he would not do it again.

Fofanov's arrest comes in the midst of a crackdown on dissent in both Russia and its ally, Belarus, as citizens move to distance themselves from the invasion of Ukraine.

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