The choir of the Russian armed forces, the Alexandrov Ensemble, had to give up plans to perform in Lithuania after organizers failed to find a venue for the performance.
The Alexandrov Ensemble
© Scanpix

The Alexandrov Ensemble, which calls itself the Red Army choir, had plans to send a four times smaller group to Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn than to other performances of the tour in Central and Eastern Europe and only perform to invited guests. The concerts had to be closed events for WWII veterans, Russian community representatives and embassy employees.

The concerts, intended to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II, had to be organised in all the capitals “liberated“ by the Red Army. However, organisers could not find a concert hall in Vilnius or any other town in the country to host the event.

The Alexandrov Ensemble has a hymn in its repertoire called “The Polite People”. The lyrics includes a line “The polite people will save Motherland’s glory and honour”. It is an ode to disguised Russian soldiers who turned up in Crimea before its annexation by Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also called these soldiers “the polite people” and initially claimed they were self-defence squad volunteers, but later admitted they were actually Russian special force soldiers.

Karolis Zykas, a specialist at the Strategic Communication and Public Affairs Department of the Lithuanian Army, says that “the main objective of the ensemble is to raise Russian fighting spirit and to crush the spirit of its neighbours. In the West, this product can be sold as something exotic and maybe people are coming to see the brown bears and balalaikas. It can be called militarisation of culture.”

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