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Roger Waters Concert in Poland Called Off After Ukraine Views Prompt Anger

todaySeptember 25, 2022 4

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One of Poland’s biggest music venues has canceled a concert by Roger Waters, the co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd, after he was roundly criticized there for his view that Ukraine should pursue peace with Russia.

Live Nation Polska and Tauron Arena Krakow gave no reason for the decision to cancel the appearance by Mr. Waters, set for next year, in a brief statement on the venue’s website. But the announcement followed an exchange on social media this month between Mr. Waters, 79, and Olena Zelenska, the wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

On Sept. 5, Mr. Waters posted an open letter to Ms. Zelenska on Facebook in which he lamented the deaths of Ukrainians and Russians in the war and said that the best way to prevent more killing was for the West to stop supplying arms to the Ukrainian side.

Ms. Zelenska responded the next day on Twitter, tagging the musician in a post that defended the country’s war effort, saying that Russia has destroyed cities and killed civilians. “If we give up we will not exist tomorrow,” she wrote.

The following week, Mr. Waters responded in a Facebook post, arguing that it was in Ukraine’s interest to pursue peace with Russia. He said that the war was being encouraged by Washington in order to weaken Moscow and risked escalating to the point of a nuclear exchange.

“I smell interference from Washington,” he wrote.

Poland’s government is one of Europe’s most vociferous defenders of Mr. Zelensky, and the NATO member has taken in millions of Ukrainian refugees since Russia’s invasion began in February. Polish news reports about the social media exchange provoked criticism of Mr. Waters, with one politician from the governing party in Krakow, the country’s second largest city, calling for him to be declared persona non grata in Poland.

Many celebrities avoid making statements about politics that deviate from a mainstream consensus. Mr. Waters, however, has made his political views and in particular his opposition to what he views as unnecessary wars a central part of his brand. Among the targets for his critique have been U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and Western media, which he says regularly distorts issues.

In March, Mr. Waters said that the war in Ukraine was a criminal mistake and the “act of a gangster” — an apparent reference to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — and called for an immediate cease-fire.

On Sunday, a website for Mr. Waters’s “This Is Not A Drill” tour listed 40 concerts in European and American cities between now and next June, with no date in Poland.

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