Kazan is the capital of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, located about 800 kms east of Moscow. In Kazan although the majority of the population are Muslim, 40% are Orthodox but exceptionally for this part of the world the two religions co-exist side by side with no tensions. The annual music festival “Creation of Peace” – founded by an icon of Russian rock scene Andrey Makarevich – celebrates this harmony.
He says, “It’s a creation of peace in the sense of creating an alternative to war. Our understanding is that the only environment today where you won’t find racial, ethnic or national prejudices or conflicts seems to be the music stage. The rest of the world would do better taking that as an example”.
The unusal mix of styles and cultures creates an eclectic musical patchwork reflecting the profound diversity of this region. Among the 70-odd ethnic groups here, the two largest are the Tatars and the Russians. The city is dominated by the Kazan Kremlin, a world heritage citadel in the historical centre of the city. Inside the citadel, almost like a symbol of mutual friendship and respect, is one of Europe’s largest mosques, the Qol-Sarif mosque. And just next door, is the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation. Both are important piligrimage sites and together are seen as model of tolerance. Which is why Kazan was chosen as the location for the “Creation of Peace” festival which aims to reunite artists from countries divided by religious, political or military conflicts.
One of the groups appearing at the festival is British world fusion and ethno techno band “Fun-da-Mental” Their music combines all sorts of worldbeat samples including motives from India and Pakistan. Their controversial lyrics call for world justice through anti-racist action and self-defence.
While people in Kazan talk about peace however, storm clouds are gathering along the Russian-Georgian border. The military conflict in South Ossetia last year keeps relations strained. Nino Katamadze, a famous Georgian singer, sadly joked she had to bring a stock of make-up with her in case another war trapped her in Kazan.
Legendary Russian song writer and musician Yuri Shevchuk was also at the festival and said, “Politicians divide us, musicians bring us together. That’s what important.”