Roger Waters: Propaganda tool for Moscow?

Friday, 10 February 2023 (21:19 IST)
The 79-year-old former member of the British avant-garde rock band Pink Floyd addressed the UN Security Council in New York on Wednesday via video link.
Invited by Moscow to give the speech, Roger Waters repeated that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was "provoked," claiming that he represented a "voiceless majority" with his opinion.
He did condemn "in the strongest possible terms" Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but added, that it "was not unprovoked, so I also condemn the provocateur in the strongest possible terms."
Waters urged US President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as well as the "USA, NATO, Russia, the EU,"  to "change course now and agree to a cease-fire in Ukraine today."
Russia presumably invited Waters to the meeting following his interview with the Berliner Zeitung, during which he made critical remarks about arms deliveries to Ukraine and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as someone who "governs carefully, making decisions on the grounds of a consensus." He also repeated Russia's official propaganda, stating that the attack on Ukraine was actually a "special military operation."
'Just another brick in the wall'
"How sad for his former fans to see him accepting the role of just another brick in the wall — the wall of Russian disinformation and propaganda," said Ukrainian UN Ambassador Serhij Kyslyza, referring to the Pink Floyd 1979 world hit "Another Brick In The Wall."
US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills said Waters "has impressive credentials as a recording artist" but argued that the musician's qualifications to speak to the council as an expert on arms control or European security issues are not very plausible.
It is not the first time Waters spoke about the Ukraine war in public. In September 2022, he accused Zelenskyy of "extreme nationalism" and urged the West to stop supplying weapons to Ukraine. As a result, his concerts in Krakow, Poland, were canceled and the city administration declared him an "undesirable person."
Accused of antisemitism
In Germany, an alliance of Jewish groups has called for the cancellation of a Waters concert scheduled for late May in Frankfurt. In a statement released Wednesday, the alliance accused Waters of antisemitic propaganda and expressing hostility toward Jews at events. The signatories call Waters an "antisemite, conspiracy theorist and Israel-hater" and charge him with advocating discrimination against Jewish-Israeli artists based on their heritage and putting pressure on musicians who want to perform in Israel. There is a limit to freedom of expression when it comes to protecting human dignity in the public sphere, they argue.
Uwe Becker, the antisemitism commissioner in the state of Hesse, argued in January that Waters was "advocating the antisemitic BDS boycott movement with increasing aggression." BDS stands for "boycott, divestment and sanctions" and calls on musicians, athletes, companies and politicians not to invest in or perform in Israel.
Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Claudia Roth told the Jüdische Allgemeine newspaper on Thursday that while she could not ban a concert, she would like to see organizers refrain from having concerts with Waters, "and if they still take place, that he play to empty halls." She said she deplores the development of the musician, who has "obviously become an active BDS supporter and, moreover, a conspiracy theorist."
Former bandmates against Waters
Waters has in the past let pig-shaped balloons featuring the Star of David rise at concerts.
On his current tour he has reportedly told the audience that if they love Pink Floyd but can't stand his politics, they might as well "f**k off to the bar, right now."
Waters' former bandmates, who have taken a stand against Russia's war of aggression, also distanced themselves from the controversial musician. 
Polly Samson, a Pink Floyd songwriter married to Waters' former bandmate David Gilmour, called out Waters following the Berliner Zeitung interview, tweeting, "you are rotten to your antisemitic core" and a "Putin apologist." Gilmour agreed, "Every word demonstrably true."
The British band Pink Floyd, founded in 1965, is one of the most successful bands in rock history with albums including "The Dark Side of The Moon" and "The Wall." Roger Waters left the band in the mid-1980s and has since pursued a solo career.

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