- 20 Nov 23
The Ukrainian singer, of Crimean Tatar origin, won the Eurovision Song contest in 2016. Now she’s on Russia’s ongoing wanted list for speaking out against the country’s oppressive actions.
Jamala (the pseudonym for Ukrainian singer Susana Jamaladinova) has been added to a Russian government wanted list, state news agencies RIA and TASS reported today.
The decision seems to be part of Moscow’s recently expanded efforts to place a target on cultural and influential figures who have been critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Jamala, 40, has been a vocal critic of Russia’s occupation of her native Crimean Peninsula and the invasion since 2022.
The targeting of Jamala is part of an effort by Moscow to silence activists and influential figures speaking out against the Russian government; the country has already added over 30 public figures to their wanted list.
Jamala’s name appears to have been added to the list in October but was publicised in the Russian media on Monday, including Russian news website Mediazone which reported that the singer has been accused by the ministry of internal affairs of spreading false information about the Russian Army’s activities.
Jamala was charged under a law only adopted last year, which bans so-called false information from being spread about the Russian military and war in Ukraine. The singer has been arrested in absentia by a Russian court, a decision made this month.
Jamala, who is currently on a fund-and-awareness-raising tour in Australia, reacted to the news by posting an Instagram story of herself outside the Sydney Opera House, with a facepalm emoji. The absentia arrest is unlikely to have more than a symbolic impact for the singer, who lives in Ukraine and would have to enter Russia in order to be detained.
Since winning Eurovision in 2016, Jamala has been a prominent advocate for her own Tatar people who are native to the Crimean Peninsula but who were deported in large numbers when the region was part of the Soviet Union. In 1954, the peninsula was transferred from Russian to Ukrainian authority within the Soviet Union, but annexed by Russia in 2014 after a political uprising in Ukraine.
Jamala’s own ancestors were deported to Central Asia, where she was born, as a result of the Russian invasion in the 20th century.
The singer told President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in November 2022, “No matter where I am, the first priority for me is to remind that foreigners came to my house to kill and mutilate life, to destroy and rewrite my culture.
“It happened in 1944, and then in 2014, and now again,” she added. “Now everyone in Ukraine understands that this can happen to anyone, if evil is not stopped and brought to justice for crime.”