The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday called for an apology from Alla Pugacheva, the country’s most renowned pop singer who returned home this week, over her criticism of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The 74-year-old Pugacheva, for decades hugely popular in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, left the country for Israel along with her husband several weeks after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
In September 2022, she sparked widespread attention by both supporters and opponents of the conflict by saying that Russian soldiers were dying for “illusory goals” and that the country had become “a pariah.”
She also provocatively suggested that authorities should name her a “foreign agent” — a status already applied to her husband Maxim Galkin, an actor and comedian.
Although Russia enacted a law after the start of the war in Ukraine that calls for prison terms or fines for denigrating the armed forces, Pugacheva hasn’t been charged. She came back to Russia in May to attend the funeral of fashion designer Valentin Yudashkin, where Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was seen kissing her hand.
She later left the country, but returned this week, Russian news agencies reported Friday. Her reason for leaving Israel wasn’t reported.
Church spokesman Vakhtang Kipshidze was quoted by state news agency RIA-Novosti as saying that Russians “who accompanied their departure by insulting their people or if they made controversial statements should apologize. This also applies to Alla Borisovna,” Pugacheva’s patronymic.
The church has been a firm supporter of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.