The members of the Russian rock band “Bi-2” (Bi-2) were arrested in Thailand on the background of “negative statements against Russia, they were released thanks to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Following strenuous activity by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Embassy in Thailand, they were released from detention and boarded the flight to Israel. Six members of the group, including three Israeli citizens.

Four of the band’s members, including its two founders and leaders, “Liova B-2” and “Shura B-2” (the stage names of Yegor Bortnik and Alexander Uman, respectively), are Israeli citizens. Bortnik and Uman, both originally from Belarus, lived in Israel in the early 1990s and visit it frequently, as do other Israeli band members. Bortnik and Uman are not Russian citizens, and the latter has Australian citizenship in addition to Israeli citizenship.

The band members were arrested after performing in Thailand without work permits. Each of them received a fine of $95, their passports were confiscated and they are being held in a detention center where they will remain until at least Monday. They are destined for deportation from the country. Russia is behind the arrest. Thai police have confirmed that the case against the band members is under government supervision due to the involvement of the Russian embassy in the country.

“B-2” became popular in Russia after its two founders moved to the country in the late 1990s. The band reached the peak of its fame in the early 2000s. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the band members first expressed quiet opposition to the war – for example, in April 2022 they refused to perform in the city of Omsk in Russia against a flag with the inscription Z – a letter symbolizing support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After that, according to a report on the Russian Kommersant website, the band’s performances in Russia began to be cancelled.

In August 2022, the band members denied reports that they had left the country, but last year Bortnik announced that he did not intend to return to Russia. According to Igor Rubinstein, an Israeli songwriter who is friends with the band, most of its members, including its two leaders, have left Russia and often visit Israel. Some have family here.

In May 2023, Bortnik was included in the list of foreign agents in Russia, according to the Russian Ministry of Justice, due to his “negative statements against Russia, its citizens and its governing bodies”.

Last November, the organization “The People’s Call” appealed to the prosecution and investigation authorities in Russia with a request to recognize the members of the band as terrorist financiers, after Bortnik wrote on his Instagram account that the band donates money to the benefit of Ukraine. The post was later deleted.

At the beginning of last year, it was published in the media in Russia and Thailand that the latter had signed an agreement with Russia, according to which it would hand over its citizens who were wanted for investigation or arrest.

About two weeks ago it was reported that Thailand canceled two performances planned for the famous Russian comedian Maxim Galkin, also an Israeli citizen and the partner of the Russian diva Ella Pugacheva, who came out against the war in Ukraine and criticizes the Russian regime.

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