Eurovision winner visits Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic (IMAGES/VIDEO)
Russian pop singer and 2008 Eurovision winner Dima Bilan has visited Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). The performer's trip received mixed reaction, with some saying it looked like an attempt to whitewash his image after he attended an infamous “almost naked” party that scandalized the Russian public.
Bilan, a long-term fixture on the Russian popular culture scene, travelled to Gorlovka and the DPR’s capital, Donetsk. Both have been repeatedly shelled by Ukraine's forces, including on New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve. The signer went to a children’s hospital, where he wished patients a happy New Year and Christmas holiday, and gave them gifts. He also brought much-needed air conditioners to the hospital.
He then visited a local animal shelter, where he adopted a cat. The facility’s staff wrote on their VKontakte page that Bilan had provided financial assistance, which they plan to spend on purchasing new vehicles for the shelter to facilitate their work, bringing food to dogs and helping animals in need.
The artist, who made international headlines in 2008 after he won the Eurovision contest with the song “Believe,” met with members of the Northern Military District and civilians of the republic who needed prosthetics. The singer pledged to assist them with their further rehabilitation.
Bilan’s trip to the war-torn region has sparked controversy, with some accusing the signer of hypocrisy and an attempt to boost his image in the public eye after an “almost naked” party in Moscow’s Mutabor nightclub caused an angry public outcry in Russia. Some of the signer’s fans argued, however, that Bilan had already been involved in charity work for the Northern Military District for a long time.
The celebrity-studded event on December 21, organized by video blogger and TV presenter Anastasia Ivleeva, drew outrage from Russia’s political establishment and the public after some of the guests wore half-naked or transparent costumes in footage appearing online. Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor found signs of “LGBT propaganda” in the images. Some celebrities and pop stars, including Bilan, later issued on-camera apologies for attending the scandalous party.
The uproar has been so intense that even Russian President Vladimir Putin has been unable overlook it. During the ‘Small Motherland – the Strength of Russia’ forum in Moscow on Tuesday, the president expressed the view that military veterans would not have participated in events “without pants.”
“Of course, we rather need to pay attention to the guys who are returning from the zone of the special military operation. When people decide to do this, when they go through this crucible and return, many life priorities are lined up differently. Here you won’t be jumping around without pants at any events, people here look at life completely differently, the priorities and values are different,” Putin said.