Russian conductor backs Putin’s stance on Ukraine
London, UK – 12 May 2014
Russian conductor Valery Gergiev had his London concert disrupted last night (Sunday 11 May 2014) by 30 pro-Ukrainian demonstrators and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. They were protesting against Gergiev’s support for the Putin regime and for Russia’s interference in Ukraine.
Waving Ukrainian flags and holding a huge banner, ‘Gergiev Supports War in Ukraine’, they booed Gergiev as he walked on stage in Trafalgar Square to conduct Prokofiev with the London Symphony Orchestra. They then pointed at Gergiev and chanted “Shame on you”. He looked surprised and slightly embarrassed.
Some of the protesters shouted: “Gergiev supports Putin. Freedom for Ukraine.”
They were angry that the London Symphony Orchestra is willing to work with and fund Gergiev, given that he supported Russia’s invasion of Crimea and backed Putin’s anti-gay legislation.
The protest took place shortly before 7pm on Sunday night and lasted about 4 minutes, before the protesters were manhandled out of Trafalgar Square by security staff.
The disruption was jointly organised by the pro-Ukrainian London EuroMaidan campaign group and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Last night’s concert was part of the BMW / LSO Open Air Classics season held in Trafalgar Square:
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was one of the protest organisers and one of the demonstrators. He said:
“It was a brief, peaceful, symbolic protest. We wanted to send a message to Gergiev and the Putin government that what Russia is doing in the Ukraine is unacceptable.
“In March 2014, Valery Gergiev signed an open letter, declaring his support for President Putin’s stance on Ukraine; implicitly endorsing Russia’s aggression and its military annexation of Crimea.
“Gergiev endorsed Putin’s 2012 election campaign, releasing a video explaining why he was voting for Putin. He continues to support the Russian leader, despite Putin’s intervention in Ukraine and anti-gay legislation. Gergiev is a great conductor but he allies himself with the expansionist, homophobic Moscow regime. He doesn’t respect Ukraine’s national sovereignty or the human rights of gay Russians. He is not fit to conduct the LSO,” said Mr Tatchell.
Chrystyna Chymera, a Ukrainian participant from London EuroMaidan and a co-organiser of the protest, added:
“We were taking a stand against Gergiev’s collusion with the Putin regime’s aggression in Ukraine. He chose to take an odious political stand. We were exercising our democratic right to criticise him. Gergiev’s pro-Putin position is an insult to the people of Ukraine.”
Gergiev is one of more than 500 celebrity signatories of a statement on the Russian Ministry of Culture’s website that backs the Russian president’s policies in Ukraine/Crimea.
He has also defended Russia’s anti-gay law which prohibits gay visibility or advocacy; falsely claiming the law is a crackdown on paedophilia It is not homosexuality.
Gergiev is a well know supporter of President Putin and endorsed his 2012 election campaign; publicly stating that he was voting for Putin.
He released a video entitled: Why I am voting for Putin
Previously, an Open Letter was sent to the Chair and Managing Director of the LSO, stating that Gergeiv is unfit to receive public funding as the LSO’s principal conductor. The LSO, which employs and pays Gergiev, receives over £2 million in Arts Council public money every year.
READ the Open Letter: http://petertatchellfoundation.org/node/472
Demotix photo agency
Mark Esper / Polaris Images