Russia musicians make anti-Putin protest White Album

Fri Jul 6, 2012 8:09am EDT
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By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya and Kate de Pury

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Back in the U.S.S.R? Russian musicians have recorded their own "White Album" to show solidarity with opponents of President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB spy who has been president or prime minister of the country for the last 12 years.

Four decades after British rock group the Beatles released the record popularly called the "White Album", with tracks such as "Back in the U.S.S.R" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", 200 singers and groups from across Russia have launched an online collection of more than 350 tracks under the same title.

The album also takes its name from the white ribbons worn by demonstrators as a symbol of protest at opposition rallies over the last seven months, and is a diverse collection of music ranging from classical to rap, and jazz to rock.

"The idea of this album is that every musician who supports the opposition movement and the resolutions made at rallies ... provided a song for this White Album free of charge," Vasily Shumov, the producer of the album, told Reuters.

"Because the colour of the protest is white ... and my favorite Beatles album is the White Album - called 'The White Album' because it has a white cover - I said why (don't) we do a 'White Album'?"

The album is the latest form of protest by a movement that has found imaginative ways to skirt a ban on unsanctioned rallies. At times Putin's opponents have strolled around Moscow and held public discussions in parks to avoid arrest by police, who have cracked down on some rallies.

The album was conceived by Artemy Troitsky, an opposition activist who was the leading Soviet rock critic. Initially launched with 60 songs on the website a month ago, it has grown steadily as new musicians added songs.

The only condition for making it on to the album is to declare support for the opposition movement. The quality of the recording, the contributor's origins, the genre and even the text are less important.   Continued...