Two Russian comedians living in Europe have received a deluge of threats after parodying the violent death of a pro-war military blogger earlier this week.
At a concert in Berlin this week, Alexander Dolgopolov and Garik Oganisyan re-enacted the moments leading up to the bomb blast that killed Vladlen Tatarsky at a St. Petersburg cafe on Sunday, with Dolgopolov approaching Oganisyan onstage to present him with a bronze statue. Oganisyan then thanked him and set the statue down beside him before grinning at the audience, sparking applause and uproarious laughter.
Evidently, those in the audience were well aware that it was precisely when Tatarsky set his gifted statue down that a bomb detonated, killing him instantly at a “patriotic” event. The pro-war hardliner has been portrayed by the Kremlin as a martyr for the war against Ukraine, with Vladimir Putin posthumously awarding him the Order of Courage and billboards going up in some cities to pay tribute to him.
As video of Dolgopolov and Oganisyan’s parody went viral, Russian lawmakers and propagandists demanded they be punished.
Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, responded Wednesday by ordering investigators to begin a procedural check into the two comedians, laying the groundwork for criminal charges.
“Humor off of human tragedy is a crime. People want cheap fame from blood. Society must respond. It is in our power to make them understand that we do not need blasphemous humor,” lawmaker Yana Lantratova wrote on Telegram, announcing that she’d formally asked the Investigative Committee to look into the comedians’ skit.
She went on to hail Tatarsky, real name Maxim Fomin, for his ability to “tell the truth” and compared him to other Kremlin “heroes” who met with a fiery end, like Daria Dugina and Motorola, the Russian car wash employee turned warlord in Ukraine’s Donetsk who was blown up in his apartment in 2016.
The Prosecutor General’s Office is already looking into the two stand-up comics, according to the Kremlin-friendly online news outlet Mash, which reports that they could be charged with extremism or justifying terrorism.
Dolgopolov and Oganisyan have also provoked the wrath of Tatarsky’s fellow war bloggers and hardliners, with the Rusich mercenary unit sharing a call for them to be sent on assault missions in Ukraine “so that they fucking come to their senses and at least something masculine wakes up in them.”
Vladimir Solovyov, one of the Kremlin’s most rabid mouthpieces, demanded the two “degradants” be jailed for “discrediting” the war.
“These two assholes need to be detained for aiding terrorism, otherwise we won’t cope with this infection. We need to detain and judge them as accomplices. Just like everyone who laughed at this ‘joke’ in the video,” another popular pro-war Telegram channel wrote, suggesting even members of the audience should be hunted down.
Russian investigators have blamed Ukrainian special services for Tatarsky’s death and charged a 26-year-old Russian woman with carrying it out.
Before his death, Tatarsky, who previously fought alongside pro-Russian forces in the Donbas, attracted hundreds of thousands of followers on social media with his ruthless calls for attacks on Ukraine.
As the Kremlin illegally annexed four regions of Ukraine last September, he declared: “I congratulate everyone, everyone who waited till this moment. We will defeat everyone, we will kill everyone, we will rob everyone we need. Everything will be as we like.” » …