Sanctioning Stars: The Case of Ukrainian Singer Ani Lorak’s Fall

United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.

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Who Ani Lorak is:

Ani Lorak is, or at least was, one of the most highly regarded performing artists in Ukraine. In 2014, before the Russian annexation of Crimea, she enjoyed the highest income of any performing artist and had received Ukraine’s highest award in her field, the People’s Artist of Ukraine. She also served as a UN Goodwill Ambassador. She hails from Kitsman in Chernivtsi Oblast in Western Ukraine. She grew up in abject poverty, living in foster homes and her brother was killed in combat during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Her preforming career took off from 1992-1998 and she represented Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008 where she came in second place, behind Russian singer Dima Bilan.

Controversy and Ukrainian Sanctions:

However, her fortunes in her home country changed drastically after the 2014 Crimea War. She chose to continue to perform in the Russian Federation, causing severe backlash, even in her hometown where her star on Star Alley was vandalized and never replaced. As a native Ukrainian speaker, she released a Russian-language album in 2016 as her popularity in Ukraine continued to dive, protestors successful caused several of her concerts to be cancelled, including in Odessa. This came despite her supporting injured soldiers in the 2014 war through performances and hospital visits.

In the midst of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Lorak continued to live and work in the Russian Federation, leading the Zelensky government to officially sanction her on 19 October 2022, along with several other high profile Ukrainian performers and citizens who were also living in Russia. She ultimately condemned the invasion, but never returned. The restrictions against her from the Ukrainian government, meant to last five years, read below:

  • 1) blocking of assets – temporary deprivation of the right to use and dispose of assets belonging to a natural or legal person, as well as assets in respect of which such a person can directly or indirectly (through other natural or legal persons) perform actions identical in content to the exercise of the right to dispose by them;
  • 2) restriction of trade operations (complete termination);
  • 3) restriction, partial or complete cessation of transit of resources, flights and transportation through the territory of Ukraine (complete cessation);
  • 4) prevention of withdrawal of capital outside Ukraine;
  • 5) suspension of economic and financial obligations;
  • 6) cancellation or suspension of licenses and other permits, the receipt (availability) of which is a condition for carrying out a certain type of activity, in particular, cancellation or suspension of special permits for subsoil use;
  • 7) prohibition of participation in privatization, lease of state property by residents of a foreign state and persons who are directly or indirectly controlled by residents of a foreign state or act in their interests;
  • 8) prohibition of issuing permits and licenses of the National Bank of Ukraine for investment in a foreign country, placement of currency values in accounts and deposits in the territory of a foreign country;
  • 9) suspension of issuance of permits, licenses for import into Ukraine from a foreign country or export of currency values from Ukraine and restriction of cash withdrawals for payment cards issued by residents of a foreign country;
  • 10) prohibition of transfer of technologies, rights to objects of intellectual property rights;
  • 11) termination of cultural exchanges, scientific cooperation, educational and sports contacts, entertainment programs with foreign states and foreign legal entities;
  • 12) cancellation of official visits, meetings, negotiations on the conclusion of contracts or agreements;
  • 13) deprivation of state awards of Ukraine, other forms of recognition;
  • 14) prohibition on acquiring ownership of land plots;
  • 15) other sanctions that correspond to the principles of their application established by this Law (suspension of operations on the accounts of an individual; prohibition of concluding contracts and committing transactions).

In the last twenty-four hours, Lorak has propelled into Ukrainian and Russian media after a member of her entourage reportedly told Russian state-owned media and independent outlets that the singer has applied for Russian citizenship. Ukrainian linked media has condemned the singer as a traitor while Russian state-owned media has championed the singer, presenting yet another information operations campaign in the brutal fraternal war.