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No, this military choir in Russia was not arrested for singing anti-war songs

Posts claim that members of the Russian military choir were arrested for performing anti-war songs.
Posts claim that members of the Russian military choir were arrested for performing anti-war songs. © Observers

Posts shared online claim to show members of a Russian military choir being arrested for singing anti-war songs. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has indeed cracked down on people spreading "false information" about the war in Ukraine, leading to many people's arrests, this video is not an example of that. In fact, it shows an incident from 2015 when the choir performed a song from a James Bond film.

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The video shows a group of five men in Russian military uniforms singing in a shopping centre. Within seconds, at least five hooded men dressed in black, part of the SOBR, a unit of the Russian National Guard, violently arrest the singers and take them out of the mall as a crowd looks on.

"A military band in Russia wanted to sing the song 'Yes-yes-yes to the sunny world, no-no-no to a nuclear explosion'," reads the caption, in Russian, of the video published on March 12 on Twitter. The video garnered more than 14,000 views. The caption makes reference to the Soviet song "It's not too late" by Iosif Kobzon. 

The same video was viewed more than 10,000 on this post in Russian the same day.

The video was also shared on Facebook, in English on March 12 and in French on March 13. 

However, a search with the keywords "Russian choir" and "arrest" brings up the source of the video, which dates back to 2015.

The video shows the military choir being arrested in 2015 as they performed a song from the James Bond film "Spectre", for unknown reasons.

According to MetroNews, a Russian news website that largely publishes content from official government sources, the incident occurred on November 5, 2015 in the Grand Canyon Mall in St. Petersburg, Russia. The military choir was performing the song "Writing's On The Wall". 

The reason for the arrest is unknown. Choir director Kirill Markov told MetroNews, "During the performance, they were arrested by SOBR fighters. They were taken to the police station, detained and released." Markov also told MetroNews that "in [his] opinion, there is nothing to worry about".

The shopping centre told the Russian newspaper that the choir's performance had been agreed upon in advance. 

According to the site Russia Today in an article from November 8, 2015, the arrest may have been a marketing stunt for the occasion of the release of the film "Spectre". Russia Today published another video of the arrest from another angle.

Anti-war protesters arrested

While this video was taken out of context, there have been an increasing number of arrests of anti-war activists in Russian since the invasion of Ukraine began. At least 14,700 people have been arrested in Russia during anti-war protests since the conflict began on February 24, according to Russian NGO OVD-Info. At least 100 protesters and a journalist were rounded up by police during a protest in Moscow on February 13, according to an AFP correspondent on the ground. 

>> Read more on The Observers: 'Ukraine is not our enemy': In Russia, hundreds arrested in anti-war protests