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UK pop star booed over Ukraine support

Elderly musician Rod Stewart encountered pushback from fans after touting his backing for Kiev at a concert in Germany

Elderly UK pop icon Rod Stewart has apparently met with fan backlash at a concert in Germany for making a public display of his support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

The 79-year-old Stewart, who was made famous by such hits as ‘Maggie May’ and ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’, has been promoting his backing for Kiev since the crisis in Eastern Europe began in February 2022. However, the theme didn’t go over well at a sold-out performance on Friday in Leipzig, where concert-goers booed when a giant image of Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky was shown behind Stewart as he sang “Rhythm of My Heart” as a tribute to Kiev.

A clip posted on social media showed fans jeering and whistling as the picture of Zelensky came on the screen. Germany’s Tag 24 news outlet reported that Stewart dedicated the song to the Ukrainian people and military, then shouted a profane insult against Russian President Vladimir Putin before beginning to sing. He donned the Ukrainian colors, including a yellow shirt and a jacket with blue sequins. The massive slideshow behind him also included images of the Ukrainian flag and the country’s troops.

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Stewart’s outward promotion of the Ukrainian cause was reportedly well received at previous concerts, such as performances in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. He has included dedications to Kiev in his concerts since 2022, and he has spoken out in interviews on such issues as sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

“I’ve been supporting them for years, the Ukrainians,” Stewart said in a March 2023 interview with Sky News. He added, “If the Ukrainians lose, it’s the end of civilization as we know it. It’s all over.”

Germany has been a leading sponsor of Ukraine, providing around €34 billion ($36.4 billion) in bilateral aid to Kiev since the conflict started. Public support for that policy has declined. A poll released in April by broadcaster ZDF showed that just 42% of Germans believe their government should boost its aid to Ukraine. Around 82% of respondents said Kiev cannot defeat Russia, up from 70% when the same question was asked last August.

READ MORE: Majority of Germans do not believe Ukraine can win – poll

German lawmaker Michael Roth, a foreign policy expert for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), scolded concert-goers who booed Stewart’s Ukraine tribute. “My hero of the day: Rod Stewart,” he said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “Thank you for your solidarity with the Ukrainian people. And his empathy-less fans who live in mental Putin servitude should be ashamed, if they still can!”

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June 17, 2024 at 01:44AM

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