Hundreds of Russians lined up outside an Istanbul club on March 15 to get a glimpse of Oxxxymiron, a rapper who rattled the Russian celebrity world with bold statements against his country's invasion of Ukraine.
The 37-year-old, whose real name is Miron Fyodorov, postponed concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg because of the Russian invasion, which he called a "catastrophe and a crime".
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory.
He has since announced a series of charity concerts, entitled "Russians Against War", the proceeds of which will be donated to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing.
Around 400 concert-goers chanted "No to war!" in Russian as they waited to be admitted into the packed venue.
"Right now it's impossible to hold an anti-war concert in Russia because, as crazy as it might sound, everything against war is banned,” Oxxxymiron said in a video last week announcing the first concert of the series in Istanbul. "There is total censorship."
Oxxxymiron's show on March 15 was sold out. Many people tried to scalp tickets at the venue's entrance, tucked between a clothing store and a barber shop in Istanbul's Kadiköy district.
His high-octane performance was also broadcast live on his social media accounts and YouTube, where it was watched by more than 40,000 people.
"He's a rare case," said Antonina Ziganshina, who was born in Russia but has lived in Turkey for more than a year. "It's very brave because to speak out in Russia is scary."
"Since 50% of me is Russian, I am proud to see people who are against what is happening now," said Katerina Orcan, who is half-Ukrainian and had a yellow and blue Ukrainian flag painted on her cheek.
"I'm glad that there are a lot of bright people who are not silent during terrible times for their brothers."
Oxxxymiron received accolades for his bold stance just as much as for his music on Tuesday.
"I listen to Oxxxymiron but not often," said Evgeny from the Moscow region, who held an anti-war placard. "It's not really the kind of music I like, but I respect his political position."
Muscovite Filipp Chekhunov said Oxxxymiron deserved respect for standing out from other Russian public figures who are generally tight-lipped about sensitive topics or simply express support for the authorities.
"Few Russian celebrities allow themselves make these kinds of statements against war," said Chekhunov, who left Russia after the conflict erupted last month.
"The fact that Oxxxymiron did is already cool, and giving all the proceeds to help Ukraine in a charity concert, that just adds to it."
(Reporting by Umit Ozdal; Additional reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Writing by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)