Alla Pugacheva's return to Russia has reignited controversy surrounding her critical comments against the ongoing war in Ukraine, as well as a demand for an apology from the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church has issued a demand for an apology from Alla Pugacheva, the country's most celebrated pop singer, who recently returned to Russia, following her public criticism about Russia's war in Ukraine.
Pugacheva, a 74-year-old icon, dubbed the "Queen of Soviet pop music", left the country along with her husband shortly after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, 2022.
In September 2022, she sparked widespread attention, both from supporters and critics of the conflict, when she stated that Russian soldiers were were dying for “illusory goals” and that the country had become “a pariah.”
She even provocatively suggested that authorities should classify her as a "foreign agent," a status already applied to her husband, Maxim Galkin, a Soviet-born Israeli comedian and actor.
Despite Russia enacting a law after the start of the war in Ukraine that allows for prison sentences or fines for disparaging the armed forces, Pugacheva has not faced any charges.
In May, she briefly returned to Russia to attend the funeral of fashion designer Valentin Yudashkin, where Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was seen kissing her hand.
She later left the country but has now returned, as reported by Russian news agencies on Friday (3 Nov).
The role of the Russian Orthodox Church and its recent demand
The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is now demanding an apology from Pugacheva upon her recent return.
An ROC spokesman, Vakhtang Kipshidze, was quoted by state news agency RIA-Novosti as saying that Russians “who accompanied their departure by insulting their people or if they made controversial statements should apologise. This also applies to Alla Borisovna,” using Pugacheva's patronymic.
Under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill, the ROC has consistently expressed unwavering support for Vladimir Putin and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, aligning with the government’s nationalistic and expansionist agenda.
In the weeks following the invasion, Kirill used his sermons to justify the campaign, framing it as a battle against sinful Western culture.
Last year, on Putin's 70th birthday, Kirill praised the Russian President's leadership as divinely orchestrated and urged citizens to offer two days of prayer for his health.
“The Lord placed you at the helm of power, so that you could perform a service of special importance and great responsibility for the fate of the country and the people entrusted to your care,” Kirill said.
Among these services, he said, are the “transformation of the image of Russia, strengthening of its sovereignty and defence capability, protection of national interests, progressive socio-economic development, and concern for the wellbeing of fellow citizens.”
The ongoing war has greatly divided the Orthodox Church, pitting the Russian faction and its pro-Kremlin patriarch against Orthodox leaders in Kyiv and around the globe.
Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanius, released a statement likening Putin to both the Antichrist and Adolf Hitler soon after Russia's invasion.
“The spirit of the Antichrist operates in the leader of Russia, the signs of which the Scriptures reveal to us: pride, devotion to evil, ruthlessness, false religiosity,” he said. “This was Hitler during World War II. This is what Putin has become today.”