Update: September 26, 2022
Days after the dates for his previously scheduled concerts in Poland were dropped from his touring schedule, Roger Waters is denying that the removal of the shows, originally scheduled for April 21 and 22, 2023, are a result of his current position on the war in Ukraine. Waters said that the cancellations are a result of local officials who are trying to stop his performances, which were set to take place in the southern Polish city of Krakow.
Live Nation Poland, the promoter for Waters’ concerts in the region, confirmed the cancellation on Sept. 24 but did not specify a reason. Krakow city councilors are voting on a proposal to name Waters as a persona non grata, or an unwelcome individual, expressing “indignation” over the musician’s position on the war in Ukraine.
In response to the backlash against local officials in Krakow, Waters published an open letter on Facebook asserting that he did not cancel his performances in Krakow performances and that local officials are trying to prevent his concerts in the city.
“It is true that a town councilor in Krakow, a Mr. Lukasz Wantuch, has threatened to hold a meeting asking the council to declare me ‘persona non grata’ because of my public efforts to encourage all involved in the disastrous war in Ukraine,” wrote Waters, “especially the governments of the U.S.A. and Russia, to work towards a negotiated peace, rather than escalate matters towards a bitter end that could be nuclear war and the end of all life on this planet.”
Waters added, “Notwithstanding that this chap Lukasz Wantuch seems to know nothing of my history of working, all my life, at some personal cost, in the service of human rights, he, in an article in a local newspaper, urged the good people of Krakow not to buy tickets to my show. Not very democratic, sir.”
Wantuch has called Waters an open support of Russian president Vladimir Putin and called his planned performances in Krakow “a shame for our city.”
The Krakow councilor added, “Roger Waters, an open supporter of Putin, wants to play at Tauron Arena in Krakow. On Wednesday [Sept. 28, 2022] we have a session of Cracow City Council and I will be speaking to the President and councilors to block this. Such an event would be a shame for our city. Let him sing in Moscow.”
In his letter, Waters added, “If Mr. Lukasz Wantuch achieves his aim, and my forthcoming concerts in Krakow are cancelled, it will be a sad loss for me, because I have been looking forward to sharing my message of love with the people of Poland, something I have been doing on many tours over a career that has lasted in excess of 50 years.”
He added, “And also, regrettably, it will deny the people of Krakow the opportunity to see my current show, This Is Not A Drill, which is an important addition to a lifetime’s body of work. His draconian censoring of my work will deny them the opportunity to make up their own minds.”
Original Report: September 25, 2022
Pink Floyd co-founding member Roger Waters has canceled two concerts planned in Poland for 2023, following anger in the region over his recent stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The website for Waters’ This Is Not a Drill Tour no longer lists the 2023 Krakow concerts, which were previously scheduled, while an official with the Tauron Arena in Krakow, where Waters was scheduled to perform on April 21 and 22, said the shows are no longer taking place.
“Roger Waters’ manager decided to withdraw, without giving any reason,” said Lukasz Wantuch, a city councilor in Krakow, in a statement.
Waters recently wrote an open letter to Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, blaming the “extreme nationalists” in Ukraine for having “set your country on the path to this disastrous war.” He also criticized the West for supplying Ukraine with weapons and blamed Washington in particular. The musician has also criticized NATO and accused the alliance of provoking Russia and recently depicted U.S. President Joe Biden as a war criminal in his stage montage during concerts.
“Well, he’s fueling the fire in Ukraine, for a start,” said Waters during an interview with Michael Smerconish on CNN. “That’s a huge crime. Why won’t the United States of America encourage [Volodymyr] Zelensky to negotiate, obviating the need for this horrific, horrendous war?”
Krakow city councilors are allegedly voting on a proposal to name Waters as a persona non grata, or an unwelcome individual, expressing “indignation” over the musician’s position on the war in Ukraine.
The city of Krakow, alone, is hosting 50,000 Ukrainian refugees and has also given 28,000 of them a Polish PESEL ID number, which grants them access to the Polish education and healthcare system, among other benefits.
Poland, the largest country in Central Europe, borders Ukraine and Belarus and has provided a warm welcome to Ukrainian refugees since the onset of the invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. To date, more than two million Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighboring Poland, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, alone.
At least 12 million Ukrainian people have fled their homes following the Russian invasion, according to the United Nations (as of July 4, 2022), with more than five million relocating to neighboring countries and seven million believed to be displaced within Ukraine.
Photo: Brian Lima / Rogers and Cowan