LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- A planned concert by Slovenia’s popular band Laibach in Ukraine next month has been cancelled after the group angered Ukrainians by remarks interpreted to suggest that Kyiv was involved in a proxy war on behalf of its Western patrons.
The iconic band, known for using military-style imagery and totalitarian symbols, had been due to perform in Ukraine's capital on March 31.
The band said the concert aimed to show support for the Ukrainian people during the war, but organizers said its remarks caused “controversy” and discord, forcing the cancellation.
Ukrainians were apparently angered by Laibach's statement to The Guardian newspaper that called the war “a cynical proxy war for the geostrategic interests" of world powers.
Slovenia's STA news agency said many Ukrainians posting on Facebook compared Laibach's statement to Russian state propaganda that portrays the invasion as a conflict with NATO and reduces Ukraine to a puppet state of the West.
“While the team showed support for Ukraine and Ukrainians and condemned the Russian regime, a large part of the audience came out categorically against Laibach’s visit,” the Bel Etage Music Hall said on Facebook late on Sunday.
“In order to prevent the unnecessary division of Ukrainians into different camps and to eliminate the cause of discord, we have decided to cancel the Laibach concert at Bel Etage," the statement added.
Laibach told STA Monday that they were “categorically asked to declare that all Russians are bad and that all Russian art is worthless, which of course (they) did not agree to do.”
The band had earlier addressed the issue on Facebook, saying “to all those who doubt our views, let us therefore once again make it very clear that Russia is the main aggressor in this clash of destructive political and geostrategic interests.”
“Not to be mistaken — we love Russian literature, music and art," said Laibach in a post last week. “But in this senseless war between Russia and Ukraine, we are wholeheartedly on the side of Ukraine and its people who — as in the old biblical story of David and Goliath — are fighting with dignity against a stronger enemy.”
Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine