Ukrainian singer Jamala famously won Eurovision 2016 with “1944,” a song that warned of historical atrocities repeating decades later.
And now, as she continues her tour to raise awareness about Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, Moscow has placed her on its Most Wanted List.
Russian web site Mediazona reports that Jamala — full name Susana Jamaladinova — was put on the list in October. Shortly after that she was arrested in absentia by a Russian court. The court alleges that she spread misinformation about the Russian army, which violates “Part 1 of Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code.”
At the time of publication of this article, Russia’s war in Ukraine is entering its 635th day. In August, a New York Times report said nearly 70,000 Ukrainians have died, citing anonymous U.S. officials. Ukrainian officials do not reveal official numbers, saying such information could harm its war effort.
You’ll recall that “1944” recounted the story of Jamala’s great grandmother being forcibly deported from Crimea — along with around 200,000 other Crimean Tatars — under Josef Stalin. At the climax of the song, Jamala let out a scream that symbolised the moment her great grandmother lost her baby during that cruel march into the unknown.
The song opened with the nihilistic lines: “When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say, ‘We’re not guilty.'”
In February, shortly after Russia’s invasion, Jamala fled with her children to Istanbul, where her sister lives. At the time she told Israeli media that Russia had been targeting her since her time at Eurovision.
“Even in 2016 when I went in Eurovision with my song ‘1944’…there was big information campaign against my family. I don’t feel safe now.”
Amid Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, Jamala has become a Ukrainian cultural ambassador, traveling the continent to sing for peace and humanitarian assistance. In March 2022 she performed at the Concert for Ukraine in Birmingham, England, and went on to compete on Dancing with the Stars in Poland.
Jamala is currently performing and fundraising in Australia. On Monday she responded to the news out of Russia by sharing a photo of herself outside of the Sydney Opera House, along with a facepalm emoji.
She recently submitted her album “Qirim” for nomination for a Grammy in the Global Music Album category. In a lengthy Instagram post, she recounted washing dishes at a cafe to support herself from music school and overcoming a series of challenges to make it in the music industry.
“How many failures were ahead of me. How many disappointments…who’s counting?”