LifestyleThailand's 'Little Russia': A crackdown on anti-Kremlin Russian artists in Phuket

Thailand's 'Little Russia': A crackdown on anti-Kremlin Russian artists in Phuket

On the streets of Thailand, there is no shortage of tourists from Russia and Belarus.
On the streets of Thailand, there is no shortage of tourists from Russia and Belarus.
Images source: © Getty Images | Paula Bronstein
10:27 AM EST, January 25, 2024

The Russian Telegram channel Mozhem Objasnit, independent from Kremlin influence, reported that Thai authorities had started canceling performances of Russian artists who oppose the war. According to the channel, these cancellations are being done at the behest of Russian authorities and are based on flimsy pretexts.

Unusual Incidents in Thailand

On Wednesday, January 24th, the renowned rock band Bi-2 members, originally from Belarus, were detained in Phuket. The previous day, they had performed a well-attended concert. The official justification for the detention was the lack of required work permits in Thailand. Despite performing in the country, the band members were unaware they needed such licenses. The concert had been thoroughly promoted beforehand and went ahead without significant disruptions or incidents.

Nasza Niwa, a Belarusian portal independent of the Minsk authorities, reported that the musicians now face deportation. The band, in existence since 1988, is known for its stance against armed aggression in Ukraine. Russian authorities have even designated the group's lead, Egor Bortnik, as a "foreign agent".

Thailand's Stance in Support of Russia

This isn't the first incident this year where Thai authorities have objected to the performances of Russian artists whose views are not in line with the Kremlin.

Phuket has once again seen performances by Russian comedians Maksim Galkin and Ruslan Belyi canceled. The show's organizers noted that this was done under the guidance of local authorities who wish to maintain good relations with the Russian government. Both comedians are known for including political content in their performances, often expressing views diverting from Moscow's policies.

It's important to note that Thailand maintains diplomatic ties with Russia and has not aligned itself with any sanctions against the country. As such, Russian tourists often feel at home when visiting Thailand.

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