I am a much-deported mezzo-soprano

I am a much-deported mezzo-soprano


norman lebrecht

March 17, 2023

From an opern.news interview with the Ukrainian singer Lena Belkina.

‘I only started to deal with my identity a year ago, because it was only with the attack on February 24, 2022 that the war and Russian warfare became obvious to everyone. From today’s perspective, it is clear to me that we have tolerated too much. Even before that, people disappeared without a trace in the areas occupied by Russia, and hundreds of Crimean Tatars have been in prison for years without reason…

‘I grew up speaking Russian in Crimea, although I only moved there with my family in 1990. My mother is a Crimean Tatar, but was born during the deportation – my grandparents, as Tatars, were forced to leave the country and start a new life in the Urals. My father’s grandparents were also from Ukraine, from Kharkiv. They too were forced to move and were deported to Siberia. My parents then met in Tashkent, where I was born. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union were we all allowed to return – before that the Crimean Tatars were not allowed to return. Before 1944 Crimea was a multi-ethnic area, with a large proportion of Tatars. When we came back to Crimea we weren’t popular at first.

Q. When you hear people say that Crimea has always been Russian, you probably have to laugh.

LB: ‘This is such nonsense! Considering the extent of Russia, one could even say that relatively few “real” Russians live in Russia as a whole. Unfortunately, this master race mentality does not only affect official Russia. I was looking for “good” Russians at the start of the Great War a year ago, but I didn’t find them. In my experience, even if they’re nice and educated, they end up believing they’re better than the Ukrainians. Racism is extremely strong in Russia.’


  • Tatiana says:

    What a strange woman. She should know that the Crimean Tatars were not indigenous there, they are just the last occupants before Russia took Crimea.

    • Des says:

      100% Wrong, Stalin deported the Tartars from Crimea (who were indigenous) you obviously are a Putin fascist.
      The USSR no longer exists, Ukraine has the right of self determination. Putin is just another wee Hitler.

    • Yelena says:

      You must learn the history better before you right this nonsense.
      I’ll help you

      • Stephen Lawrence says:

        This article uses the word ethnogenesis, which I’d not heard of, but which could be used about Ukraine right now…

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Strange that vile cultural genocidalist Russians like you consider yourself “civilized”.

    • soavemusica says:

      “Racism is extremely strong in Russia.”

      So all Russians are bad, including Russians in Ukraine? Forbidding the Russian language was the answer?

      Difficult times are ahead for Ukraine and it`s divided population, even if the war would be over – after a few decades.

  • Des says:

    Russia will be forced out of Crimea it has no right of access to Crimea, once Ukraine gained its independence. Putin is just another nasty dictator who will end up pushing up the daisies.

    • Dacha Plot says:

      Ukraine didn’t “gain independence.” Three SSRs — Ukraine, Belarus and Russia — met in 1991 to cope with total economic collapse and unexpectedly left having converted themselves into nation states.

      This agreement is one of the thousands of bits and pieces — treaties, conventions, directives, resolutions and so on, some bilateral, others multi-lateral, some recent, others centuries old — that make up international law, more colorfully but accurately described as the “rules-based international order” and other similar phrases.

    • Stephen Lawrence says:

      I hope that people who have lived there a long time will not be forced out. Of course, they will have to tolerate all the others who are also there… Which is no easy thing, especially given the large number of supporters all these different people have… So perhaps some sort of protectorate will be in order for another decade?

  • Doc Martin says:

    St. Patrick did not go to Russia, which explains why they are the people who walk in eternal darkness.

    • Nicholas says:

      Today I’m wearing green, drinking Guinness, reading some Yeats, and listening to Irish folk music with some Victor Herbert and George M. Cohan thrown in and I don’t have a single drop of Irish blood in me. I hope to end the day dozing off to Bing Crosby’s version of Too-Ra-Loo. I’m not taking the bait. No blarney today!

  • Des says:

    The USSR was a multi ethnic “bugger’s muddle”. Once it fell apart into wee nationalist fiefdoms, it left Russia totally isolated as a useless rump state. Corruption was rife in the USSR it is still rife in Putinland.

  • Natalie says:

    Am I right saying, that Lena’s patients retund to Crimea (Ukrain) aftr USSA collapsed where Lena was born; being
    a patriot of Ukrain she spent most of her career abroad unsuccessfully looking for “good” Russians, but only finding “racists” and now calls herself “a much-deported
    mezzo – soprano”? Looks like she was deported from Ukrain….self identification is probably a real problem..
    Using buzz words may attract immediate attention, but ruins reputation. Maybe Lena is better at singing ..

  • Doc Martin says:

    Racism is Russia has been well documented eg by Amnesty International and other groups. A friend of mine once attended an ENT medical conference, he found the folk where he stayed very Xenophobic. Crime rife outside his hotel.


  • Ted says:

    Putin has an ICC arrest warrant. All we need is a International Marshall to round him up folks.

  • Tom Phillips says:

    “I was looking for “good” Russians at the start of the Great War a year ago, but I didn’t find them. In my experience, even if they’re nice and educated, they end up believing they’re better than the Ukrainians. Racism is extremely strong in Russia.’ SO SO TRUE! (And of also of course of most Russians living in the West).

  • Juju Pap says:

    Ah, Lena Lena…. Before 2022 singing all over Russia at government concerts, claiming that “she is russian”, “russians are amazing” and that her family is “russian” all over her instagram and facebook, eventhough Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 already. Once the war in 2022 started she quickly changed shoes and banned all russians from her profiles, deleted all posts about her singing in Russia, and apparently, started bashing russians and calling them “orcs”, writing absolutely atrocious things about russians who have absolutely nothing to do with the war. Ah, the good old neurotic Lena

  • Des says:

    Stalin’s policy of deportation and collectivisation resulted in mass starvation in Ukraine and elsewhere during the 1920s-30s. Putin is just another Stalin-Hitler.