Source: NYT (9/10/23)
Chinese Singer Denounced Over Video at Bombed-Out Ukrainian Theater
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The singer Wang Fang drew criticism after she performed “Katyusha,” a Soviet-era patriotic song, at the ruins of a theater in Mariupol.
By Javier C. Hernández
The Chinese singer stands on a balcony inside a bombed-out theater in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the site of a deadly attack last year by Russian forces. Looking at the camera, she sings an excerpt from the Soviet-era patriotic song “Katyusha” and lifts her arms triumphantly into the air.
The video of the singer, Wang Fang, a 38-year-old performer of patriotic songs and Chinese opera, has circulated widely online in recent days, fueling outrage in Ukraine and abroad. She appeared in Mariupol last week as part of a visit by a small group of Chinese media and cultural figures.
The exiled mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, said the theater, which was hit by a Russian air attack while civilians sheltered there, was a “symbol of tragedy, a symbol of Russia’s war crimes” that should not be used for entertainment.
“People died there, among them children,” he said in a statement. “To turn the theater into a tourist destination and to sing on the bones of the dead is incredible cynicism and disrespect for the memory of the dead civilians.”