Russian orchestra plays ABBA songs in front of Sweden's St. Petersburg consulate

Russian orchestra plays ABBA songs in front of Sweden's St. Petersburg consulate

The musicians played songs by the pop group ABBA on balalaikas in front of Sweden s consulate in St. Petersburg.

A Russian youth national instruments orchestra staged an improvised protest concert in front of the Swedish consulate in St. Petersburg on Monday. This comes after Swedish authorities banned a musical performance in Sweden over the inclusion of balalaikas.

The instruments, branded a symbol of Russia, had been deemed offensive by some locals amid the ongoing Russian military offensive in Ukraine. The Balalaikor, a local folk band in the Swedish city of Uppsala, was to play during a charity performance to support Ukraine by Soedra Bergens Balalaikor.

In protest, the musicians from the Russian Terema orchestra played several songs by Swedish pop group ABBA, including Dancing Queen and Gimme! The orchestra's conductor Andrey Dolgov told Russian media that they had found it a little offensive. He said it should be beyond time, beyond politics, and that Russian folk instruments are part of the world heritage. According to Swedish media, some locals found the Balaikas offensive offensive because they considered them to be a symbol of Russia. Jonas Nyberg, one of the Swedish band's members, told Swedish SVT news media that some concert critics went as far as to compare balalaikas to swastika. The concert was scheduled to be held in mid-April.

The argument is a little weird. Nyberg told the outlet that we are not Russians, but we just happen to play Russian instruments as we have done for the last few years. The folk band intended to stage the concert to raise money for Ukraine didn't seem to help their cause. Swedish authorities haven't commented on the incident.

Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to take the two republics by force.