British musician Sting interrupted a concert in Warsaw on Saturday evening to warn his audience that democracy was under attack around the world and to denounce the war in Ukraine as “an absurdity based on lies”. .
He asked a popular Polish actor, Maciej Stuhr, to come on stage to translate his warning that democracy is “in grave danger of being lost unless we defend it”.
“The alternative to democracy is a prison, a prison of the mind. The alternative to democracy is violence, oppression, imprisonment and silence,” Sting said, and then rolled his hand on his neck in a slit gesture.
The 70-year-old delivered his message to a country bordering Ukraine, where Russia launched its offensive on February 24, killing thousands and displacing millions. Poland has become a refuge for more Ukrainians than any other country.
“The war in Ukraine is an absurdity based on a lie. If we swallow that lie, the lie will eat us up,” Sting said.
He appears to be referring to the justification given by Russia for its invasion, including a Russian claim that it wants to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, a democracy led by a Jewish president. .
Those in the spectators at the National Stadium in Warsaw must have understood the context of their country.
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Sting drew particularly loud applause when he said that democracy is somewhat messy and hopeless “but it is still worth fighting for”.
Poland’s populist government is often accused by the European Union and human rights organizations of destroying democratic norms with its efforts to tighten controls on courts and the media, undermine women’s reproductive rights and engage in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric .
After his speech he performed ‘Fragile’, whose lyrics include the words that “nothing comes from violence and nothing can ever happen”.