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Moscow puts popular Ukrainian singer on wanted list, accusing her of spreading false information about Russian military

Russia has placed a Ukrainian singer who won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest on its wanted list, state news agencies reported Monday.

The reports said an Interior Ministry database listed singer Susana Jamaladinova as being sought for violating a criminal law.

The independent news site Mediazona, which covers opposition and human rights issues, said Jamaladinova was charged under a law adopted last year that bans spreading so-called fake information about the Russian military and the ongoing fighting in Ukraine.

Jamaladinova, who performs under the stage name Jamala, is of Crimean Tatar descent. Jamala, who performed at the Kennedy Center Honors in December, won the 2016 Eurovision contest with the song “1944,” a title that refers to the year the Soviet Union deported Crimean Tatars en masse.

Ukraine’s Jamala reacts on winning the Eurovision Song Contest final at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, May 14, 2016.

TT News Agency/Maja Suslin/via REUTERS

Her winning performance came almost exactly two years after Russia annexed Crimea as political turmoil gripped Ukraine. Most other countries regard the annexation as illegitimate.

Russia protested “1944” being allowed in the competition, saying it violated rules against political speech in Eurovision. But the song made no specific criticism of Russia or the Soviet Union, although it drew such implications, opening with the lyrics “When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say ‘We’re not guilty.'”

Earlier this year Jamaladinova spoke to the BBC about the release of her new folk album, Qirim, saying it was her attempt “to give strong voice to my homeland, to Crimea.”

“The centuries of the Russian Empire, then Soviet Union, now Russia – they did a lot of propaganda to shut us up. Then they told the whole world we did not exist. But we know the truth. I know the truth. And so that’s why for me, it’s really important to show this truth through the stories behind each of the songs in this album,” she told the BBC. 

Just last week a Russian court sentenced artist and musician Sasha Skochilenko to seven years in prison for swapping supermarket price tags with antiwar messages

Skochilenko was arrested in her native St. Petersburg in April 2022 and charged with spreading false information about the military after replacing price tags with ones that decried Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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