A Russian-Kiwi rock band are set to play a charity concert in Auckland tonight as part of a fundraiser for Ukraine.
The concert was organized by Unite for Ukraine NZ, an informal charity set up by three women, another Russian and two Ukrainians, who raise money for vulnerable people in the war-torn country.
Hit Pump are New Zealand’s most popular Russian rock band and play mostly covers of Russian rock songs.
Ilya Chernukha, the band’s vocalist and guitarist, said the band immediately said yes when asked to play.
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Chernukha is originally from Vladivostok, but her parents moved from Ukraine to Russia in the 1980s.
He said the band felt bad after the invasion and didn’t want to play music, but now that some time had passed, they wanted to help.
“I hope we do good with the music. Despite what is happening, we still want to show our support and do what we can,” he said.
“We thought Covid-19 was terrible, but the danger of World War III is worse.”
Chernukha said the group is focused on sending a positive message of unity.
At their last concert, the opening act of Hit Pump had a Ukrainian bass player, and they have now invited Sasha Nechaiev to join Hit Pump on stage and sing several songs.
“We specifically chose bilingual songs that include both Russian and Ukrainian to symbolically emphasize that we are friends,” he said.
Nadia Dikareva, who is part of Unite for Ukraine NZ, said she decided to ask Hit Pump because the group was well known in the Russian-speaking community and she was a fan herself.
Dikareva said being Russian right now was “awkward”.
“First I was really ashamed of being Russian, but then I analyzed everything and thought that I shouldn’t be ashamed of being Russian, I should be ashamed of politicians.
“I wanted to do something to support Ukrainians and show that I condemn the war,” she said.
She warned Kiwis not to underestimate Putin and Russia, and to support Ukraine and all refugees coming to New Zealand.
The money donated to Unite for Ukraine NZ is used to purchase medical supplies and other basic necessities for vulnerable victims of war, such as Ukrainian women and children.
Concert tickets count as donations, but further donations can be made by following the links on the Unite for Ukraine NZ Facebook page or by visiting the Givealittle page.
Doors open in Raynham Park at 7 p.m., and Hit Pump is scheduled to take the stage after 8 p.m. Door-to-door sales will be available.