She’s the Russian-Tajik singer who sang for the whole of Europe at Eurovision 2021. But almost a year later, Manizha and other Russian singers now have to live under sanctions imposed as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Manizha has spoken to the media about the effect these sanctions are having on her musical output in the Russia of 2022.
Manizha discusses sanctions and Russian artists in 2022
Several weeks ago, Manizha released her song “Soldier”. Although she wrote the track 11 years ago and planned to release it in November, Manizha found that it became relevant at the present time.
Speaking to Dutch broadcaster NOS, Manizha has described being an artist right now in Russia:
“Every one of us has become a soldier, because everyone is right now fighting for their own truth. Someone’s truth is leaving, someone’s truth is being scared, someone’s truth is to go out and scream. It has become very difficult to do, what is not difficult.”
“I believe, not taking in mind that I wrote [“Soldier”] 11 years ago, that I wrote up the scenario in November and that I felt that I shouldn’t release it in November but in February.”
“It’s scary to acknowledge that exact word and to sit in prison. It’s scary to say your opinion.”
Manizha on not being able to monetise her songs
Swedish streaming giant Spotify became one the latest services to leave Russia, after entering the market in June 2020. Russian artists can also no longer monetise their music through YouTube.
In Russia, artists are currently heavily monitored by local media, with accusations of treason being made to those who leave the country. With the sanctions, the country’s music industry is moving inward.
During the interview to NOS, Manizha said:
“I think the musical isolation of Russian singers is not fair. Now, Russian artists have been barred from publishing their music on global platforms. Even the song “Soldier”, nobody did support from global platforms. I understand it, yes, because… But, it seems to me, it’s not right. Because many have something to say.”
“I’m scared of the future, because of the sanctions that happen today which are destroying. The first things that they destroy are the charities.”
“Do we have to leave, emigrate, forget about children which are ill with cancer here? Scary of course. Of course, it’s not the same as with what happens to the citizens of Ukraine. People are dying. There is such a large feeling of helplessness. It terribly tears apart my heart inside.”
“If you talk about concerts, now I have no mood [for it]. Although it’s also not fair. Music should sound, it should sound to unite and help people. You know, every day, I work on myself to continue. Because I believe in the power of music. Nothing happens while we are not united.”
In her Eurovision song “Russian Woman”, Manizha sang about a wall which women have to break through, as a symbol for the glass ceiling in Russia. Recalling that lyric, Manizha told NOS:
“The wall of a year ago, and the wall now are like two different walls. The wall grows, that’s clear. And possibly now our task is to not throw it over with our bodies, but to think ‘maybe we can go around it’.”