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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Concert Called Off Amid 'Orange' Talk

ST. PETERSBURG -- A rock concert called "Pitersky Maidan," or "Petersburg Square," featuring top Russian and Ukrainian bands has been called off under political pressure, its promoter said.

One band, however, suggested that the fuss might be part of a publicity stunt.

The concert was to be held Sunday and feature Ukrainian bands Vopli Vidoplyasova, Okean Elzi, Lyuk and Tanok na Maidanye Kongo as well as Russian bands Chizh & Co., Va-Bank, Nogu Svelo, Tequilajazzz, Butch and Markscheider Kunst, among others.

But promoter Dream Scanner announced last Tuesday that the event had been cancelled after scores of advertising posters were vandalized. A photograph attached to its statement showed a poster covered with the words "Beat the Orange Plague" in white paint. The term "Orange Plague" was used by opponents of Ukraine's recent Orange Revolution.

Later Tuesday, most concert posters on St. Petersburg streets were covered with white paper.

The concert's name had raised eyebrows from the start. "Maidan" is Ukrainian for "square" and has taken on a political connotation in Russian after the huge protests on Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) during the Orange Revolution.

"Of course, the first thing that I asked was, 'What does this have to do with the Orange Revolution?'" Tequilajazzz musician Yevgeny Fyodorov said, recalling when his band was asked to play in the concert.

Fyodorov said he was told that the concert had nothing to do with the Orange Revolution, but he said he now wondered whether the event was a publicity ploy. "When all the fuss broke out, it led me and my friends to consider two versions of the story," he said. "First, this concert might have been organized in order to be canceled under the pretext of being banned. Or the concert was not planned at all -- [they wanted] to print posters and then say, 'We're sorry, it was banned.'"

Dream Scanner is owned by director Andrei Nekrasov, who is perhaps best known for "Nedoveriye," or "Disbelief," the Boris Berezovsky-financed documentary film that questions the official account that Chechen rebels carried out the 1999 apartment bombings.

The Dream Scanner statement said that despite the use of the word "maidan," the concert was not "aimed at conducting a political action."

However, the concert's official web site said the event was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First Russian Revolution, and Nekrasov is quoted on the site as saying, "Early spring. Time of change. Thaw. We need a new thaw."

The concert's producer, Olga Konskaya, said she and a local journalist, Nikolai Peshkov, whom she described as the concert's press officer, had received threatening phone calls. "There emerged a danger that our concert would be turned into an arena of political provocation," she said by telephone from Germany.

She said Nekrasov had wanted to film the concert for a new documentary titled "Ekho Maidana," which she described as a look at the "place of rock music in sociopolitical life on post-Soviet territory."

Peshkov said he had helped place ads in the press on behalf of the promoter but denied acting as press officer for the event. He denied receiving any threatening calls.

Two weeks ago, Dream Scanner said in a statement that the concert was under threat after its main sponsor withdrew "under political pressure from the power structures."

Konskaya refused to identify the sponsor and insisted that the withdrawal was not the main reason that the concert had been cancelled.

Whatever the reason for the cancellation, the Kremlin has shown concern about a possible revolution. Presidential deputy head Vladislav Surkov met secretly with top rock musicians -- including Zemfira, Akvarium's Boris Grebenshchikov and Leningrad's Sergei Shnurov -- last month to seek assurances that they would not support a revolution.