Russia placed Ukrainian singer Jamala on a wanted list Monday based on an undisclosed criminal charge. As reported by Mediazona, Susana Jamaladinova, known as Jamala, was added to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs wanted database in October and was arrested this month in absentia, meaning that Jamala was not physically present when the arrest warrant was issued.
According to Russian news agency TASS, law enforcement agencies suggested that the search might be linked to a case involving the dissemination of false information about the Russian Army. Mediazona also alleges that the singer is accused of spreading “fake news” per article 207.3 of the Criminal Code.
Article 207.3, commonly referred to in the media as the “Fakes Law,” was signed by Vladimir Putin after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The law came amidst anti-war protests that erupted in Russia and became a major tool in Russian censorship efforts. The Russian government introduced the law under the pretext of protecting soldiers and officers of the Russian Armed Forces. However, the law’s broad language allows it to censor unwanted behavior or speech. The law explicitly targets “the public dissemination … of knowingly false information” about the Russian Armed Forces and “public actions aimed at discrediting” the same. Violators face significant fines or imprisonment for three to 15 years.
Jamala openly opposes Russia’s war in Ukraine. In 2016, representing Ukraine, she won the Eurovision Song Contest with “1944,” a song highlighting Joseph Stalin’s 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatar ethnic group the Crimea. The deportation is a topic that sparks heated debates in the post-Soviet space. The song echoes the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea, even though it did not directly address the event, prompting criticism from Russian officials. In April 2022, Izvestia reported that Jamala had been banned from entering Russia for 50 years.