She has faced a sea of criticism since winning Russia national final earlier in March, including from some who say that her song “isn’t Russian enough”. Now, in an interview with the BBC, Manizha has shared the true extent of the hate being directed towards her ahead of Eurovision 2021, including death threats.
Manizha shares shocking hate messages
“It was very hard to understand that someone can hate you so much”, the “Russian Woman” singer tells BBC’s Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg.
On those Russians who dislike the song’s message of female empowerment, Manizha says “We’re always hearing this advice from our childhood, like, “You need to be like this, you need to be like this. Your skirt should be longer, or shorter”. These stereotypes make our life so bad and I’m tired of it”.
What’s hurt her the most is those who dislike her because she’s not ethnically Russian. While she is now a Russian citizen, Manizha was born in Tajikistan and moved to Moscow as a child. “You can not like my voice, you can not like my song. But if you don’t like me because I was born in Tajikistan, that was hard”.
Some of the hatred has been extreme. “It was very hard to understand that someone can hate you so much. One woman, who has two children, wrote a message, like, “I will pray to God that your aircraft will crash, you know, when you will go to Rotterdam”. And we are having some threats, like “if you’re gonna sing like this about Russian women, you’re not gonna live any more here”.
However, Manizha does not intend to quit, although she admits that the thought crossed her mind. “I’m a normal person, I’m a human. You know? I have feelings, and of course I’ve had these thoughts, but now I have a lot of support. I can see it. Not only from media and media people, from people who think the same like me. And this thing is supporting me, this thing makes me stronger, and I’m like “I will go on the stage, whatever it is, I will go on the stage and I’m gonna do my job, yeah, I’m gonna do it”.
Manizha BBC interview (Russia Eurovision 2021)
Russia’s #Eurovision entrant #Manizha tells me about the hate she’s receiving: “One woman wrote to me ‘I will pray that your aircraft crashes when you go to Rotterdam.'” Producer @BBCWillVernon Camera/edit @mattgodtv Camera @AntonChicherov @BBCNews @BBCWorld @bbceurovision pic.twitter.com/zPjYFwpxQ2
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) March 24, 2021
Manizha has consistently remained defiant in the face of hate. First, she responded with a hilarious video that discovers just what Manizha is made of. The video takes the form of a mockumentary, in Russian but with optional English subtitles. The show is presented by an elegant lady (played by Manizha) rocking a blonde power bob. She’s determined to get to the bottom of how Manizha won the Russian national final.
The presentation mocks the idea that Manizha somehow “bought” her national final victory, selling it as an opportunity to escape Russia’s border closures — and with the offer of a free set of steak knives. Then an expert, a Dr Veniamin, is called upon to answer the question “What is Manizha?” After breaking into her house, stealing her skeleton, and conducting scientific tests, the good doctor reveals the shocking truth. The video concludes with a teaser for part two, jokingly promising to reveal how much Manizha paid Little Big to give up representing Russia at Eurovision 2021.
More recently, she teamed up with the VK social network and took over massive electronic billboards in both St. Petersburg and Moscow. The message reads: “Listen to a Russian woman. Listen to a Tajik woman. Listen to a talented woman. Listen to the brave woman. Listen to every woman”.
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