Emir Kusturica’s concert in Barcelona scheduled on March 30 at Palau de la Música music hall has been cancelled on Thursday. The venue has called off the show, as they condemn Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The event had generated controversy among the Ukrainian community in Catalonia over the musician’s alleged ties with Russia.
Kusturica is a Serbian artist who has for years been a vocal supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin. He signalled his approval of the military operation in Ukraine in 2014 when Putin annexed Crimea, encouraging Russia to “protect ethnic Russians living in Ukraine” in an interview with Russian news agency Tass. Kusturica would later defy the threat of sanctions from Ukraine and other western states by visiting annexed Crimea in 2017 to perform a concert there.
In 2016, Kusturica was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin, one of the highest civil distinctions offered to foreigners in Russia. A year later, Kusturica praised Putin’s “gentle nature” while speaking to Russian state-backed media outlet RT, citing the president’s characteristic as the reason for the state of the country at the time.