According to the Guardian’s transcript of a national phone-in with the boss, the Mariinsky chief likened the Russian premier and would-be president to Peter the Great. Putin, for his part, promised to support culture. ‘This is all very pally,’ notes the Guardian’s transcriber, calling it ‘a classic piece of quality toadying’.
I pressed Valery very hard last summer about his relations with Putin. He recounted the origins of their connection in post-Soviet St Petersburg and insisted that it was mainly political. They hardly ever met, or spoke, these days. They were certainly not personal friends. What or who prompted Valery to ring the phone-in may take a while to find out, but reading the transcript and knowing his voice, I can hear degrees or ironic detachment that are not apparent in print.
If any of my readers in Russia heard the broadcast, please let us know your impressions.
UPDATE: Russian reports contradict the Guardian version.
(not exactly best of friends)