President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of trying to cancel Russian culture, including the works of great composers such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Rachmaninov.
At a televised meeting with leading cultural figures, Putin compared the cancellation of a number of Russian cultural events in recent weeks with the actions of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
“Today they are trying to cancel a whole thousand-year culture, our people,” Putin said, citing the cancellation of events involving Russian artists in some Western countries.
“I am talking about the gradual discrimination against everything linked to Russia… a tendency unfolding in a number of Western countries,” he said.
A number of events involving Russian cultural figures who have voiced support for the war have been cancelled, including some involving Valery Gergiev, general director of the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre, who spoke to Putin during Friday’s meeting.
Gergiev has been dismissed as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic and lost the chance to conduct at Milan’s La Scala after he failed to condemn Russia’s invasion.
A much smaller number of events have been cancelled due to their association with dead Russian cultural figures, with the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra dropping a Tchaikovsky piece from its programme and media reports saying similar moves were taken by orchestras in Japan and Croatia.
Spain’s Teatro Real, one of Europe’s major opera houses, cancelled performances later this year by Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet. Auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams have cancelled sales of Russian art in London
The Cardiff Philharmonic said it was subject to “hate speech and vicious comments” after cancelling a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture earlier this month.
“Basic humanity takes precedence over art and history,” the Orchestra said in a Facebook post. “When the humanitarian crisis is over the discussion about ‘woke’ and ‘cancel culture’ can have its place.”
During Friday’s meeting, Putin compared the treatment of Russian cultural figures with that of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling after she sparked controversy with opinions on transgender issue.