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The Killers apologize after being booed at Georgia gig over Russian ‘brother’ remark


By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — The Killers apologized on Tuesday after inviting a Russian drummer on stage during a concert in Shekvetili, Georgia, and telling the booing crowd that he was their “brother.”

Videos posted on social media showed the crowd booing and gesturing with their thumbs down while The Killers’ frontman and singer Brandon Flowers said: “We don’t know the etiquette of this land but this guy’s a Russian, are you okay with a Russian coming up here?”

Following the negative reaction from the crowd, Flowers added: “You can’t recognize if someone’s your brother, he’s not your brother? We’re all separate? We all separate on the borders of our countries? … So I’m not your brother? Am I not your brother, being from America?”

The audience responded to Flowers’ remarks with boos, and posts on social media alleged that people left the concert early.

Tbilisi has a long and complicated history with its powerful northern neighbor – a situation which has been exacerbated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year and the influx of Russians to Georgia that followed.

The two countries have had no formal diplomatic relations since Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and, since winning its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia has played a balancing act between pro-European sentiment among its citizens and the geopolitical aims of its neighbor.

The Killers issued a statement following the concert, saying “it was never our intention to offend anyone.”

“We have a longstanding tradition of inviting people to play drums and it seemed from the stage that the initial response from the crowd indicated that they were okay with tonight’s audience participation member coming onstage with us,” the statement, posted to social media, said.

The band, perhaps best known for the song “Mr Brightside” from their 2004 debut album, clarified that Flowers’ comment was “meant to suggest that all of The Killers’ audience and fans are ‘brothers and sisters’” and recognized that it “could be misconstrued.”

The 2008 conflict centered around South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway provinces which are officially part of Georgia but have separate governments unrecognized by most countries and are propped up by Russia.

Georgia’s ruling party, Georgian Dream, has recently faced accusations of close ties with Moscow, most notably during efforts to pass a foreign agents bill earlier this year, which critics said mirrored controversial Russian laws. The plans were met with widespread protests.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Sophie Tanno, Christian Edwards, Niamh Kennedy and Heather Chen contributed reporting.

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