MOSCOW -- Andrei Makarevich used to be friends with Vladimir Putin. He and the Russian prime minister even attended a Paul McCartney together at one point. Nowadays, however, Makarevich, a well-known musician, is singing a very different tune.
Early Thursday morning, Makarevich released a clearly satirical song on YouTube called Putin is coming to Kholuyevo, about a fictional small town preparing for a visit from the prime minister. By 1 p.m. in Russia, the song had already garnered nearly 2,000 views.
Our path is endlessly difficult, Makarevich sings. Either our heads against the wall or the reverse. Putin is coming to see us in Kholuyevo, so that he can see how the rest of the country is living.
The tune, accompanied by an acoustic guitar and spoken as much as sung, sounded not at all unlike Soviet-era protest songs, which used humor in a similar way to describe common situations and to protest conditions and oppression in the communist era.
But although the song clearly draws from a long tradition of Russian opposition music, it is somewhat of a first and a change in political leaning for Makarevich. Despite rising to fame in the 1970s, when others sang obviously political songs, Makarevich has not been particularly political. Instead he had always been close to the heads of Russian government.
In 2008, Makarevich was one of just a handful of artists invited to perform at an official concert following Dimitri Medvedevs election as president. During that concert, the audience was primarily made up of pro-Kremlin youth from the group Nashi, a youth movement started by Putin in 2005.
Makarevich mentions Nashi in his new song. Bums have been taken away on stretchers, the main street has been scraped clean of animal droppings, he sings. All the schoolchildren are wearing the Nashi uniform, just in case he happens to ask questions.
The rocker first began offering hints about his political change of heart late last year. In December, he was one of many people who signed an open letter condemning Michail Khodorkovskys new sentence. And after the United Russia convention, when it became clear that Putin would run for president of the Russian Federation yet again, Makarevich complained openly in an interview on radio Svoboda
We have already been told who is going to be president, he said. Its not about Putin, its about the feeling that even the last crumbs of our right to vote are being taken away from us.
Read the full original story in Russian by Andrei Kozenko
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations