The New York TimesThe New York Times

Changing his tune for Mother Russia

By Valerie Hopkins and Georgy Birger

09 Mar 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

Cultural figures in Russia are being forced to align with Putin or face career-injuring repercussions. The NYT has the story of one pop star who embraced Russian nationalism—and has greatly profited.

MOSCOW — He cuts the figure of a typical leather-wearing pop star heartthrob. He has a fan base of young and middle-aged women who bring him flowers and stuffed animals when he performs. But Yaroslav Dronov, better known by his stage name, Shaman, is also beloved by an exclusive and powerful Russian fan base: the Kremlin.

The young singer’s star has been rising as the war in Ukraine continues into a second year and Dronov aligns his music with Moscow’s party line. When Russian President Vladimir Putin staged a patriotic rally last month coinciding with the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Dronov performed “Vstanem,” or “Let’s Rise,” a ballad of gratitude to veterans, just before the Russian president came onstage.

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