Thai authorities are facing diplomatic difficulties in deporting arrested members of the band Bi-2 with citizenship from two countries.

Members of the self-exiled Russian rock band Bi-2, known for their anti-Russian rhetoric following the launch of a special military operation in Ukraine, face deportation to their home country after being arrested in Thailand for violating immigration rules.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, accused the band members of sponsoring terrorism and publicly supporting Ukraine, raising fears that the band members could face criminal charges in Russia.

The Russian consul in Phuket said the musicians would be sent to Bangkok to be deported to their home country on citizenship grounds.

Five of the seven members of the band Bi-2, detained on the Thai resort island of Phuket on 24 January for holding two illegal concerts without business visas or work permits, are Russian citizens.

Defence lawyers for the Russians said they flew to the Thai capital on Monday and feared the musicians had been targeted for anti-government stance. Thailand’s foreign ministry did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

However, since four members of the band Bi-2 also hold Israeli passports and one is an Australian citizen, the issue has become a diplomatic headache for Thai authorities, the South China Morning Post reported.

Russian artists who have criticised the government face increasing difficulties performing abroad. Opponents of President Vladimir Putin claim there is a targeted campaign to intimidate the artists who have left.

Comedian Maxim Galkin*, now living in Israel, said he had been banned from entering the Indonesian island of Bali for a scheduled performance last Saturday. Despite the fact that the comedian, unlike the members of the band Bi-2, had obtained a work visa and work permit two days earlier.

Galkin, whose concerts in Thailand were also recently cancelled by venue owners, said on Instagram that passport control officers in Bali showed the artiste a letter from the Russian government asking Indonesia not to let Galkin into the country.

Galkin was also fined 100,000 dirhams ($27225) in the United Arab Emirates for a performance in Dubai in which the artiste declared support for Ukraine, according to the Mash telegram channel.

Russian rap musician Alisher Morgenstern* said on social media that he had also received an entry ban from the Arab country despite having bought luxury property in Dubai and co-founded several businesses. Nevertheless, Morgenstern announced plans to perform in Phuket on 13 February.

The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation has added Bee-2 lead singer Yegor Bortnik*, comedian Maxim Galkin and rapper Alisher Morgenstern to the list of foreign agents.

Following the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, Russia launched an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, imprisoning or exiling people for publicly disseminating knowingly false information about the Russian army’s actions in Ukraine.

According to some Western estimates, one million Russians, including several prominent cultural figures opposed to the war, left the country in 2022 and 2023, the largest brain drain since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat, when asked about the case, said Israel was “trying to help” its citizens in detention in Phuket. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it provided consular assistance to an Australian citizen detained in Thailand.

  • – listed as foreign agents by the Russian Ministry of Justice

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