American rock band The Killers apologized after singer Brandon Flowers invited a Russian fan onstage at a concert in Georgia.
At a performance on Tuesday at the Black Sea Arena in Batumi, Flowers brought the fan onstage to play drums on the song “For Reasons Unknown.”
Georgia is a former Soviet state and a fifth of its territory is still occupied by Russia, which invaded in 2008.
In videos circulating on social media, Flowers asked the audience: “We don’t know the etiquette of this land but this guy’s a Russian. You okay with a Russian coming up here?”
Fans responded with a mixture of boos and applause.
Flowers attempted to placate the audience by saying: “You can’t recognize if someone’s your brother? He’s not your brother? … We all separate on the borders of our countries … Am I not your brother, being from America?
“Tonight, I want us to celebrate that we are here together and I don’t want it to turn ugly. And I see you as my brothers and my sisters,” Flowers added. Some concertgoers left the arena in protest, the Guardian reported.
The Killers later apologized on X, formerly known as Twitter. “It was never our intention to offend anyone!” the band wrote, adding that they regularly invite people on stage at their shows 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.”
Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Relations between the two nations deteriorated in the following years, with the election of a pro-Western government in Georgia in 2003 and Russia’s invasion in 2008, during which Moscow occupied northern Georgia.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine — which has caused an influx of Russians to Georgia and boosted its economy — the Georgian government has refused to participate in Western sanctions against the Kremlin.