Roger Waters concerts canceled in Poland after letter to Olena Zelenska

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters is embroiled in a controversy in Poland, where his comments that in part blamed the Ukrainian political establishment for Russia’s invasion appear to have led to the cancellation of two of his concerts in Krakow.

Waters, the rock musician best known for his work on Pink Floyd’s 1979 album, “The Wall,” was due to perform in Krakow on April 21 and 22 as part of his solo farewell tour, dubbed “This is not a drill.”

But the venues canceled the performances in the wake an exchange Waters had with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska in recent weeks — with Waters also facing potential censure from the Krakow City Council after a member submitted a proposal to declare him persona non grata.

Waters, who frequently speaks out on foreign policy issues and is no stranger to controversy because of it, said Saturday in a statement that the cancellation of his Polish shows would “be a sad loss for me.”

Elton John ‘flabbergasted’ and teary after Biden surprises him with medal

In early September, Waters published an open letter addressed to Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In it, Waters professed incredulity about her assertion to the BBC that more support for Ukraine would bring the war to an end faster.

“I guess that might depend on what you mean by ‘support for Ukraine’? If by ‘support for Ukraine’ you mean the West continuing to supply arms to the Kiev government’s armies, I fear you may be tragically mistaken,” he wrote.

Waters went on to accuse the United States of having a vested interest in extending the war and said “extreme nationalists” in Ukraine were violating “any number of red lines that had been set out quite clearly over a number of years by your neighbors the Russian Federation,” putting Ukraine “on the path to this disastrous war” — a statement many interpreted as victim-blaming.

Zelenska responded on Twitter that Waters should “ask [Russian President Vladimir Putin] for peace. Not Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s first lady details war’s toll on the Zelensky family

Waters regularly espouses incendiary political opinions. Most recently, a video shown during his concerts referred to President Biden as a “war criminal.”

In contrast, Pink Floyd, which Waters left in an acrimonious breakup in the mid-1980s, released a single this year in support of Ukraine, “Hey Hey Rise Up,” its first new music in more than two decades. The song features Ukrainian vocalist Andriy Khlyvnyuk singing a Ukrainian anthem, and proceeds from its sale were earmarked for humanitarian relief.

Poland has been one of the staunchest defenders of Ukraine — with which it shares a border — since the Russian invasion. It has taken in by far the largest number of Ukrainian refugees in Europe and has pledged or donated aid to Kyiv at levels on par with, or in some cases exceeding, commitments made by countries with much stronger economies.

Poland embraces West amid Ukraine crisis after years of drifting away

On Sunday, the entertainment platform Live Nation Polska and the concert venue Tauron Arena Krakow said in a one-line joint statement that they had “canceled Roger Waters’ concert.” They did not give a reason, and some Polish media outlets reported that Waters’s manager had decided to pull out. Waters denied those rumors in his statement Sunday.

The Krakow City Council was expected to vote this week on a proposal to declare Waters persona non grata, the Associated Press reported. The motion was submitted by Councilor Lukasz Wantuch, who, according to Deutsche Welle, previously wrote on social media that it “would be shameful for our city” if Waters were allowed to perform there. “Let him sing in Moscow,” he reportedly added.

Wantuch did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post early Monday.

“If Mr Łukasz Wantuch achieve his aim, and my forthcoming concerts in Krakow are canceled, it will be a sad loss for me,” Waters said in his statement. “I have been looking forward to sharing my message of love with the people of Poland, something I have been doing on many tours over a career that has lasted in excess of fifty years.”

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in an address to the nation on Sept. 21, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to “divide and destroy Russia.” Follow our live updates here.

The fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Annexation referendums: Staged referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are set to take place from Sept. 23 to 27 in the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another staged referendum will be held by the Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson starting Friday.

photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the US can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.

Leave a Comment