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Protesters Rally Against The Mariinsky Theatre's Valery Gergiev at BAM After His Support of Russia's Annexation of Crimea

By Jaime Prisco j.prisco@classicalite.com on Jan 21, 2015 12:59 PM EST

Valery Gergiev, artistic director of The Mariinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg, has found himself the subject of protest yet again. The Russian conductor, who was in hot water after expressing his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin after he had introduced anti-gay legislation, is coming under fire again after voicing his backing of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Protesters stood outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where The Mariinsky Theatre began its U.S. tour with a two-week residency, holding signs that read “4,700 killed in Putin’s war against Ukraine” and shouting “Boycott Gergiev.”

Gergiev recently spoke to the New York Times about the task of keeping music and politics separate. When asked about his thoughts on Crimea, he said:

“There was so much Russian blood spilled in Crimea over the last 200 years, so much. I think Russians know the history of Crimea and the history of czarist Russia and the history of the Soviet Union. It is not up to me to give a lecture, but Crimea is a very complex issue, which cannot be described in one word annexation.”

But some Ukrainian protesters feel different, stating that his opinion should be left for the art world, not politics.

“I’m appalled that Gergiev planned his publicity to such an atrocious act,” said protester Tatyana Sirman to WQXR. “His art should be peaceful. It’s shameful that they invited him.”

Gergiev’s relationship with Putin was the main subject for protesting that took place a couple years ago in London and New York. He was one of more than 500 names from the Russian "cultural elite" who lent their support to Putin's presidential campaign, and thus, backing his legislation.

When asked by the Times if he had a reputation for being anti-gay before the legislation was introduced, he responded by saying:

“Of course not. My task is to help gifted people. It does not matter if they are black or white, gay or not gay. The important thing is that you cannot put a totally uninteresting artistic creation in front of the public.”

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TagsProtesters Rally, The Mariinsky Theater, The Mariinsky Theater Valery Gergiev, Valery Gergiev Bam, Valery Gergiev, Crimea, Russia