Provocative Russian Hip Hop: Oxxxymiron. Oxxxymiron, also known as Miron Yanovich Fyodorov, is one of the most famous Russian hip-hop artists. He called off a trip to Russia to protest Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine and called on Russians and Ukrainians to work together for peace.
If you’re Russian, protesting Putin’s war in Ukraine may take some courage. In a state that has cracked down on protests and dissidents, thousands have been arrested at anti-war demonstrations across the country. No doubt you’ve seen videos of protesters appearing to be dragged away as they hold placards that simply say “two words” — even completely blank placards.
While celebrity activism can feel a little empty, disconnected, and even a little silly at times, it can also have a real impact on millions of people. Celebrities often have large followings and thus have considerable power and influence. Today, people are more influenced by respected celebrities than by politicians and journalists.
This is where Oxxxymiron comes into play. The rapper, one of Russia’s most influential musicians, is now trying to use his platform to turn public opinion in the country against the war. First, he canceled six sold-out concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg, saying he couldn’t perform for the Russians when the rockets hit the Ukrainians, and now he’s going a step further, organizing charity concerts in support of the besieged country.
Oxxxymiron was born Miron Yanovich Fyodorov in 1985 in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad). He moved to the UK at the age of 15 and, of course, earned a degree from Oxford University while continuing his career as a rapper and rapper songwriter. He became known for his participation in rap competitions and became one of the most high-profile battle rappers in the world.
On Tuesday, he gave a live concert in Istanbul to raise money for Ukrainian refugees. Between songs, he implored those Russians who supported the war (or, as Russian officials put it, “special military operations”) to reconsider their position. Careful not to order people to think about certain things (after all, no one likes being told what to do), he urged pro-war Russians to “research alternatives.”
It’s a bold move, but Oxxxymiron isn’t the only Russian celebrity who has turned against Putin. Many others, from tennis players Andrey Rublev and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to Bolshoi ballerina Olga Smirnova, have raised concerns about the war criticize. Oxxxymiron wasn’t the only musician either: Kasta, Shym, Vladi, Khamil, Zmey and Noize MC, among others, also denounced Putin’s invasion.
While many of these celebrities have been spared arrest or jail time because they live abroad, speaking out against Putin’s regime and the invasion of Ukraine is still very brave for them.
If you live in the UK and want to support Oxxxymiron’s attempt to change the minds and minds of pro-war Russians (while also raising money for Ukrainian refugees), he’s about to give a charity concert at the O2 in London called Shepherd’s Bush Empire “Russians Against war”. You can buy tickets here.