MOSCOW (AP) — The American rock group Bloodhound Gang was kicked out of a Russian music festival and pelted with eggs after videos emerged of its bass player shoving a Russian flag down his pants at a recent concert in Ukraine. Russian prosecutors are even considering whether to open a criminal case in the matter, which comes amid a rise in U.S.-Russian tensions.
Videos posted online of Wednesday’s concert in the Ukrainian city of Odessa show bass player Jared Hasselhoff pushing the Russian white, blue and red flag down the front of his pants and pulling it out the back. He then shouted to the audience: “Don’t tell Putin,” a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The incident outraged the Russian government. Maria Minina, a spokeswoman for the weeklong Kubana festival in southern Russia, said Saturday that the band’s headlining performance the previous evening had been canceled because of its treatment of the flag.
The American band is known for its sexually explicit songs, including “The Bad Touch,” with its unforgettable lyrics: “You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.”
Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky tweeted Friday night that he had spoken with officials in the southern Krasnodar region, known as Kuban. “Bloodhound Gang is packing its bags,” he said in the Twitter post. “These idiots will not perform in Kuban.”
Hasselhoff was questioned Saturday by police, according to the Russian Interior Ministry, which said prosecutors have been asked to decide if the musician could be charged with defaming the Russian flag.
The bass player apologized late Friday at a news conference held at the music festival in the city of Anapa, the local Yuga.ru news portal reported. He was quoted saying that he had meant no offense and explaining that it was a band tradition for everything thrown from the stage first to be passed through his pants. Hasselhoff said he decided to throw the flag because some fans had seemed disturbed to see it hanging on the stage.
The scandal caused by the American band in Russia comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries over National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, who was given temporary asylum in Russia last week to help him evade prosecution in the U.S.
As the Bloodhound Gang members were driving to the Anapa airport on Saturday, activists from a pro-Kremlin youth group threw eggs and tomatoes at their vehicle, Yuga.ru reported.
The band members were taken off their afternoon flight to Moscow after they had already boarded the plane, Russian news agencies reported, citing airline officials. After being questioned by transport police, they took a later flight, the reports said.