British musician Sting interrupted a concert in Warsaw on Saturday night to warn his audience that democracy is under attack worldwide and to denounce the war in Ukraine as “an absurdity based on a lie”.
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, slashing his hand over his neck in a throat-cutting gesture.
The 70-year-old delivered his message in a country bordering Ukraine, where Russia launched its invasion on February 24 that has left tens of thousands dead and millions displaced. Poland has become a haven 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,” Sting said.
He appeared to refer to justifications Russia has been trying to provide for its invasion, including a Russian claim that it wants to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, a democracy headed by a Jewish president.
Those in the audience at the Warsaw National Stadium would also have understood a reference to their own country.
Sting was especially applauded when he said democracy is messy and frustrating “but it’s still worth fighting for.”
Poland’s populist government is often accused by the European Union and human rights organizations of eroding democratic norms with its efforts to tighten control over the courts and the media, reduce women’s reproductive rights and engage in anti-government policies. LGBTQ rhetoric.
After his speech, he performed “Fragile,” the lyrics of which include the words that “nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could.”