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Detained in Thailand, Russian anti-Putin rock bank Bi-2 facing deportation fears

Self-exiled Russian-Belarusian rock bank Bi-2 has been detained in Thailand since last week. Russian authorities are only pushing to worsen the matters for them as the members await freedom from their confinement at a detention center. Despite having plane tickets in their possession, the anti-war music act has been locked up with 80 other people in a cell. The Bi-2 members are face fearful consequences of possibly being deported back to Russia.

FILE – Aleksandr “Shura” Uman, left, and Yegor “Lyova” Bortnik perform during the Bi-2 rock band concert in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011. Members of a rock band that has been critical of Moscow’s war in Ukraine remain locked up in a Thai immigration jail, fearful that they could be deported to Russia as a reported plan to let them fly to safety in Israel was apparently suspended. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)(AP)

However, the issue isn’t easy to solve diplomatically. Some members hold dual citizenships of Australia and Israel, and two others (Shura and Lyova) are not even Russian citizens. The situation keeps going in circles, only expanding the period of torment for the band members. Here’s what happened and why they’re stuck in this pickle.

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First Bi2 detention post update on X (dated January 28):

Why was Bi2 detained?

Performing outside of Russia since 2022, Bi-2 returned to Thailand’s Phuket to promote yet again in 2024. Things took a dark turn when Thai authorities intervened and put their musical fest to a jarring halt, claiming that one of their Phuket concerts wasn’t authorized. Although Bi-2 opposed the idea since their Thai shows aren’t a thing of the new, fears of a possible deportation have endangered everything.

Thai immigration authorities detained seven members of the group last Wednesday. Since then, the septet as transferred to Bangkok, and has been put behind bars.

Well known for having condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kremlin has recognized the artists as dangerous elements. The group’s lead singer has even been labelled as a “foreign agent” for his extreme criticisms of the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Bi-2 isn’t the only music name to have escaped Russia since Ukraine was invaded. Many musicians have renounced their ties with the country and moved on to perform elsewhere. Bi-2, however, faces an uncertain future because if deported, it’s quite likely that the group will be subjected to severely excruciating punishments.

While pro-Putin associations are calling for the group to be labelled as criminals and treated as such, Human Rights Watch has jumped into action against this severity. The international non-governmental organization has urged Thai powers not to send the group back to Russia. Elaine Pearson, the organization’s Asia director has called the authorities to release detained members immediately.

Reportedly, the Bi-2 were pushed into detention by Vladimir Sosnow, Phuket’s Russian consul. The same anonymous source further revealed that Thai authorities have been sent a roster of blacklisted Russian artist. The Kremlin is pressurizing them to deport these musicians back to Russia.

Bi2 members refuse to meet with the Russian consul

Since not all members are Russian, deporting them back to the country isn’t possible. Israeli diplomats also jumped into offer the group to pass in to the Israeli city Tel Aviv. However, the Russian consul once again interfered the transaction.

Bi-2 members, though refused to meet with the Russian consul’s high-ranking diplomats, have been informed that their travel to Israel has been canceled.

The group’s representatives continue to share updates on their social media pages. One of the most recent X (formerly Twitter) updates informs that the members are still copped up inside the migration prison and have been denied a previously agreed upon flight to Israel.

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