A Russian pianist is upset at negative response to pro-Putin letter

Denis Matsuev is one of the Russian cultural figures put their names toa  letter endorsing President Putin’s intervention in the Crimea. But it appears not everyone agrees with him. He’s had a heavy mailbag today, much of it hostile. (Matsuev, a Putin loyalist, was recently named a  ‘goodwill ambassador’ by Unesco.)

So Denis has written a long letter on his Facebook site, insisting that he loves the Ukraine. His mother was born in Kiev. All he wants is peace. ‘It is important to understand that the people who signed the letter are unequivocally opposed to any manifestation of aggression and, God forbid, a quarrel with our fraternal Ukrainian people.’

Russia, he insists, has only peaceful and friendly intentions. There is no military conflict. ‘Let us have music, not gun shots,’ he concludes.

Here’s the full text in Russian:

 

denis matsuev

Мне до глубины души было больно и обидно получить в последние несколько часов отзывы с осуждением моего решения подписать открытое письмо Деятели культуры России — в поддержку позиции Президента по Украине и Крыму. Я считаю необходимым разъяснить свою гражданскую позицию по этому вопросу.

В первую очередь важно понимать, что люди, подписавшие письмо, безоговорочно выступают против какого-либо проявления агрессии и, не дай Бог, ссоры с нашим братским украинским народом. Письмо было написано в тот момент, когда в Киеве звучали выстрелы, когда ситуация начала выходить из-под контроля и появились первые жертвы. Для меня эти события стали личной трагедией, я переживал их со слезами на глазах, с глубокой болью и тревогой за судьбу киевлян, потому что Киев для меня – один из самых дорогих и любимых городов МИРА. И когда из здания консерватории на Майдане стреляли по людям, я не мог смотреть на это и не попытаться как-то прекратить этот кошмар. В этой Консерватории совсем недавно, в ноябре 2013 года проходил Первый международный юношеский конкурс, где я был художественным руководителем. Конкурс прошел с невероятным успехом. Съехались лучшие молодые музыканты со всего мира. И я не случайно сделал этот конкурс в Киеве. Хотелось сделать особый акцент на том, что для нас всех Киев – это один из крупнейших культурных центров с богатыми традициями.

Украина, лично для меня, одна из самых любимых и братских стран в мире. Это родина моей мамы, которая прожила там девять лет на улице Стрелецкой в городе Киев. И все мои гастроли по этой стране, которые были все эти годы во многих городах по много раз, являются подтверждением тому, как глубоко и серьёзно я привязан к украинской публике. Крым для меня тоже очень дорогое сердцу место, где я бывал бесчисленное количество раз. В Ялте, Симферополе, Севастополе. Я неоднократно говорил о том, что публика в бывших союзных республиках – это НАША родная публика, которую лично я никогда не делю на русских, украинцев или евреев и которая воспитывалась на советской и русской культуре.

Я не отделяю от этой культуры Тараса Шевченко или композитора Николая Лысенко, который у меня в репертуаре не потому, что он украинец, а потому что он просто очень талантливый композитор, и я абсолютно не смыслю репертуар без некоторых его произведений. Украина дала миру огромное количество великих музыкантов мирового уровня, таких, как Рихтер, Гилельс, Ойстрах, Горовиц, конкурс которого также проходит в Киеве. Поэтому я считаю, что это всё наше, родное, как и Пушкин, Достоевский, Чайковский для украинцев. Достаточно посмотреть на репертуар украинских оперных театров или филармоний, чтобы понять, что я прав.

У меня в Украине и Крыму огромное количество друзей и знакомых, и это ещё одна причина, по которой я не могу безразлично смотреть на то, что происходит в эти дни. Мне не всё равно, когда с трибун там звучат лозунги националистического, фашистского, антисемитского и антирусского характера. Я не могу и не хочу молчать в этот момент.

Главный посыл этого письма в том, что наши народы должны дружить и что ни в коем случае мы никому не позволим поссорить нас друг с другом. Мне странно отдельно повторять и подчёркивать очевидную, на мой взгляд, истину, но раз есть такая необходимость, я повторю и подчеркну: Россия выступает исключительно с миротворческими и дружескими намерениями по отношению к Украине, как и должно быть, когда речь идёт о братских народах. И любые проблемы должны решаться мирно, путем переговоров, о чем я всегда говорю. Никакой агрессии, никакого вооруженного противостояния нет и быть не может.

Многие из тех деятелей культуры, кто также как и я подписал письмо, родились в Украине, связаны с ней и им не безразлична её судьба. Они прекрасно понимают и осознают, что то, что сейчас происходит, это трагедия. Это трагедия, в которой обязательно нужно остановить кровопролитие. И они, как и я, считают, что в Украине должна звучать музыка, а не выстрелы.

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  • To my knowledge, Crimea has always been part of the Russian empire, no wonder the Russians do not trust the Ukrain interim government when their only warm sea harbour with their military fleet is stationed there. It is a kind of lifeline.

    The West has behaved very carelessly after the fall of the Soviet Union, assuming that the line of history is theirs, and coming closer and closer to the Russian borders without making enough efforts to reassure Russia of its peaceful intentions. It is a psychological blunder to a priori ride the moral high horse and be surprised when Russia tries to protect its fundamental interests. It does not help democratic and civilizational reforms in Russia.

    This is not a defence of mr Putin’s action, but a critique of the West who often behaves arrogantly and as if it has the only valid perspective. Russian artists want to support the idea of Russia as a great nation with, obviously, a great artistic community. Russia has to reinvent itself after the fall of communism which left a morally and economically bankrupt country. It is regrettable that Russian artists let themselves be exploited by the regime, like Gergiev by Putin who buys his support as a ‘cultural ambassador’, instead of keeping out of politics. History shows that this is a dangerous game to play.

    • Well, we mustn’t do anything to hurt Russians’ feelings or act as if a country with the GDP of Italy or Califonria by itself isn’t a great world power.

      OTOH, how about the “feelings” of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Tajikstan, Krygystan, Mongolia, Belarus, and all the other former Russian satrapies?

      Do you think they, too, feel like Russia being mistreated by the West?

      Especially the ones with significant Russian minorities, each and every one of which Putin has threatened to invade and occupy military if he alone decides they need his protection?

      • Of course all that are signals of aggression. But I was merely pointing towards Crimea as a crucial interest, not emulating mr Putin. A country like Russia has to recover from a very long period of exploitation and terror, so: handle with care, I would say. The psychological complexes running wild there are the real problem, it seems to me.

    • You are wrong on your history; over the centuries Crimea belonged to many countries and was independent at other times. It was part of Russia from about the mid-1850s, and has been part of Ukraine since 1964 (1954?).

      As for western “arrogance,” I don’t see it. After the fall of the communist governments, the west welcomed the liberated peoples of those countries to a new order of freedom, which citizens/governments of most of those countries have embraced. Unfortunately, Putin and others saw the fall of the USSR as Russia being “weak,” and so sought to rebuild its so-called “greatness” into the corrupt, autocratic, and increasingly imperialist state it is today. Russia could have embraced NATO and the EU, instead of seeing it as a threat. Tragic.

      • Thank you for the historical update.

        Supposing that Russia could have embraced NATO, or the EU for that matter, would have been denying the historical perspective. Wouldn’t it have been more tactful to leave the ex-communist countries, after the fall of the Soviet Union, as a kind of ‘development area’, a bridge between two very different worlds, to give Russia time to recover? Also Germany suffered from an ‘encircling complex’ in the past, and it considerably fed insanity.

        • With all due respect, John, and I mean it profoundly : I find it a very surprising reasoning. “To leave the ex-communist countries”? On what ground? Because Russia wouldn’t have it? Could you mean a doctrine of “liimited sovereignty” should apply to them? Do you really think giving up to Russia’s irrational ideas (that its colonies and protectorates are, in fact, its own) would help it to “recover”? Haven’t we tried it before, with well known results? You mention Germany – and you’re right, but even here the comparison wouldn’t work : just look at the map and compare their relative “encircling” situations. Fundamental : Russia could have perfect, peaceful and friendly relations with all of the West and some of the South. It could begin today. It only depends on Russia.

    • The truth that US do not want you to know is that Crimea is historically part of Russia that has never truly been a part of any other country. (On 19 February 1954, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union issued a decree transferring the Crimean Oblast from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.[32][33] The transfer of the Crimean Oblast to Ukraine has been described as a “symbolic gesture,” marking the 300th anniversary of Ukraine becoming a part of the Russian Empire.[34][35] The General Secretary of the Communist Party in Soviet Union was at the time the Ukrainian Nikita Khrushchev.) Just as a symbolic present to fraternal republic reminding them of the common past. But what is more important, Ukraine (since it became independent) treated Crimea appallingly , not sending enough funds and reducing the local Russian majority to poverty. I personally met quite a few Crimean Russians who had to flee their homes just to be able to survive! I personally couldn’t understand why Russia didn’t do anything to protect Russians in Crimea from this terrible slave-like existence as a result of extreme Ukrainian nationalism ( you cannot imagine just HOW bad it is!) My question is: what is wrong with protecting your people and letting them make their own choice? Why is Scotland allowed to do that? Why was Kosovo allowed to do that? Why in the same situation Russians are portrayed as villains?! As you might see the US and depending countries started anti-Russia anti-Putin campaign long before they’ve started Ukrainian conflict – anti-gay, anti-human rights, anti- dogs-and-cats (you name it) – just to create a negative opinion. So that when they start their invasion of Russian neighbour, everyone in the US and Europe already had a negative image of Russia! How clever and yet how predictable! To produce legitimate government Ukrainian people have to go to the elections – easy as that. The US don’t want that, because there are far too many Russians living there to create an American puppet out of Ukraine. So let’s bully Russia to get what we want?

      • “Why is Scotland allowed to do that? Why was Kosovo allowed to do that? Why in the same situation Russians are portrayed as villains?! ”

        Could you tell us, to make your comparison absolutely clear and legitimate, 1. When did the Scottish Imperial Federation invade Scotland? 2. When did Albania invade Kosovo?

        “To produce legitimate government Ukrainian people have to go to the elections – easy as that. The US don’t want that (…)”.

        That’s an interesting statement. Could you remind us when have the USA declare these elections to be illegal before it even started? Because Russia did.

      • Do not lecture those who are suspicious of Moscow about elections. Putin muscled his way to the presidency. His campaign dominated the media and the opposition was simply shut down. Yanukovych was Putin’s puppet and was also “elected” in a rigged election. I have serious doubts about your narrative of the life of Russians in Crimea. It parrots the official Kremlin propaganda.

        The West does not have to work very hard to create a negative opinion about the Soviet Union or the current incarnation, the Russian Federation. Unfortunately, Russian policies and behavior supply a lot of material without any outside help.

  • Russia’s “fundamental interests” have always been to expand and make serfs of their neighbors. If Russia should invade the eastern part of Ukraine, it would not be like Crimea. Putin’s arrogance has awakended even Russian speakers in Ukraine and there would be serious armed resistance – Russia would play in blood. A serious problem for the future of our planet is that no country will ever give up nuclear weapons in exchange for assurances of security. Those assurances are as effective as a court’s “order of protection” when your drunk former husband beats down the front door. I fully support the new government in Kiev in their rightful resistance to Russian imperialism.

    • Funny, how old archetypical fears of the Polish for instance are separated from reality. Russia in reality has not expanded but diminished their territory, if you want to count the dismantling of the Soviet Union. “Russian imperialism” is funny today when said by a Pole, who in turn is a victim of his old fear and is being played by the actual Imperialists who run and control the world, the Americans. How can human psyche be so irrational? Well, it just is, we are still animals more than rational free thinking humans.

      The Americans are really clever in playing the many European old tribal resentments to their favor, “divide et impera” is a simple but effective concept for thousands of years.

    • No, not at all! Maidan and its casualties – that’s what the REAL mindless and pointless AGGRESSION is. Killing police, opponents, destroying your own country, turning against not just the neighbour but the close relation! – fascist’s slogans of killing Russians and Jews – that’s the real aggression. Have I missed something?

    • No, not at all! Maidan and its casualties – that’s a REAL mindless and pointless AGGRESSION. Killing police, threatening opponents, destroying your own country, turning against not just the neighbour but the close relation, fascist’s slogans “Kill Russians and Jews!” – that’s a REAL aggression. Have I missed anything?

  • I am amused by all those who just “don’t see” western arrogance. “Arrogance” is one of the milder critiques that apply to the U.S. It has always been a prominent feature of American behavior. In the past, that arrogance was backed up by displays of at least attempted moral fiber; today, the only backup is the largest armament budget in the world.

  • It is almost always difficult to understand why artists of international stature feel the need to take a political stand with the more powerful entity and not with the underdog. Especially when the overwhelming popular opinion is on the side of the underdog.

    What do they stand to gain here? Certainly, there is no moral imperative to do so … the Crimean peninsula has been, historically speaking, like a ping-pong ball tossed around between the occupying forces “de jour” of the last 1,000 years or more.

    There are other issues at stake here, such as keeping the Russian naval base solidly in Russian hands, which have nothing to do with territorial or cultural integrity per se. If the USA can keep American bases in Guantánamo and Japan without stepping on the toes of the indigenous population, that should be possible in Crimea, too.

    That being said, there was no need to establish Ukrainian as the only official language in the recent decision. Russian and Ukrainian are so similar that it is almost a joke to have this barrier. They should take Switzerland as an example. Perhaps Ticino would be more apt to secede to Italy if some day German was voted the only official language? Ha ha ha … And there are many towns in southern Texas where the actual spoken language is more often than not Spanish, rather than English. Having grown up in that part of the world, I’ve often wondered why Spanish was not allowed to be an official language. Are people afraid that Texas might actually secede to Mexico?

    • @Robert Hairgrove

      1. The day before Russia invaded, the Ukrainian parliament, sitting since 2010 and entirely legitimate, reaffirmed the treaty with the Russian Black Sea Fleet. It would be honored fully, they said, and added that they hoped to live in cooperation. The next day, Russia invaded.

      2. There was no recent decision to make Ukrainian the official language. It was debated, a version of a bill was passed with a slim majority, but the acting president vetoed it and the parliament decided not to pursue it in any way. Suggestions that this law exists are propaganda. Russian is used throughout Ukraine with no problems.

      Simple googling will confirm what I have said above.

      • You know, Christy, simple (sometimes a little more elaborate) googling would confirm most of what you say and patiently repeat, but, unfortunately, this is not about reality.

        Let’s only pray that there’s no “terrorist attack” organized by “ukrainian fascists” today in Crimea…

    • Of course “there is no moral imperative to do so”. But there is a burning desire to get as many perks from those in power as possible and continue to be in favor at the court. That is what “they stand to gain”.

  • Robert Hairgrove:

    “feel the need to take a political stand with the more powerful entity and not with the underdog”

    Why not? Is the underdog always automatically right?

    “overwhelming popular opinion is on the side of the underdog”

    Where, precisely? And again, is popular opinion always right?

    “no need to establish Ukrainian as the only official language”

    True, but we’re dealing with hardcore nationalist ideologues. That’s the sort of thing that’s top priority for them.

    “why Spanish was not allowed to be an official language”

    Spanish can’t be an official language because we don’t have official languages in the United States.

    • @PR Deltoid

      “no need to establish Ukrainian as the only official language”

      True, but we’re dealing with hardcore nationalist ideologues. That’s the sort of thing that’s top priority for them.

      I’m curious. Could you please tell me the names of the government ministers, where they’re from and the parties they represent? I have read repeatedly that they’re mostly from the South and East, ironically. Perhaps you could disavow me of that idea and identify the “hardcore nationalists” for me.

      The acting president, for example? Where is he from? What party does he represent? The Prime Minister? Which language do they speak? Who are the Vice PMs? What are their religions? Can the Jewish members of the government be considered “hardcore nationalists,” I wonder?

      Please enlighten me.

      • Apologies. This part of the comment above was written by PR Deltoid:

        “True, but we’re dealing with hardcore nationalist ideologues. That’s the sort of thing that’s top priority for them.”

        The rest of the comment after that is my response:

  • John Borstlap—The answer is not to step onto Ukrainian soil and illegally take over what does not belong to Russia! Very naive thinking…..

  • So Crimea had a referendum. The question was loaded, and it was questionable just who was sitting in the armoured cars.

    Lets look at the other point of view Kosovo succeeded from Serbia. The Serbians were not very happy about it. The Kosovans were backed by the same International partners as don’t agree with the Crimean Referrendum.

    Is the situation in Kosovo wrong and the one in Crimea now quite so black and white.

    The former head of Ukraine resigned and fled – or was it a Coup d’etat. That isn’t exactly black and white either.

    Putin’s reputation isn’t good. Since the fall of the USSR, any sign of weakness any he’s in.

    E L James’s 1st novel was called “50 Shades of Grey”. Just 50? There is a whole monocrome kaleidoscope when it comes to the former 2nd World.

    • “Lets look at the other point of view Kosovo succeeded from Serbia. The Serbians were not very happy about it. The Kosovans were backed by the same International partners as don’t agree with the Crimean Referrendum.”

      The analogy has been raised by the Russian propaganda to justify Russian aggression on Georgia in 2008. It was absurd then, it’s even more absurd now. To make it workable, the situation would have been as follows:

      Kosovo (Crimea) wants to leave Serbia (Ukraine) in order to join Albania (Russia). Albania (Russia) invades Kosovo (Crimea) and organizes there a fake “point of a gun” referendum where 97% of Kosovars enthusiastically vote to become part of Albania.

      As you remember, nothing of the sort happened in Kosovo. The Western intervention (whatever you think of it) was provoked by a massacre of Kosovars organized by Serbia. Nothing of the sort happened in Crimea, or, for that matter, anywhere in Ukraine under the new government.

      The only analogy, and the only appropriate term, used by those who remember, is “Anschluss”, justifications included.

      “Is the situation in Kosovo wrong and the one in Crimea now quite so black and white.”

      The situation in Crimea is, indeed, completely “black and white” : a foreign empire invaded a region belonging to its neighbour and swallowed it whole under false pretenses, exactly the same Hitler used in 1938.

      “The former head of Ukraine resigned and fled – or was it a Coup d’etat. That isn’t exactly black and white either.”

      The former President of Ukraine didn’t resign, but fled nevertheless, again under false pretenses. It cannot be considered a coup d’état, since a legitimate parliament is still governing Ukraine following the constitution. The President himself created this abnormal situation, jumping ship.

      This is also black-and-white. Your “grey areas” remind me of an old (Russian?) joke : “he stole a watch, or a watch was stolen from him, anyway, there was an affair with a watch and he was involved”.

        • Thank you, happy to please… But you see what’s happening, what’s already happened : the good people, some of the best – doubt. The propaganda has reached its goal.

          One thought hit me recently : we’ve had some interesting exchanges here about Wagner, Furtwaengler and the like. One of the participants wondered how it was possible for the World, 80 years ago, to shut up and ignore what was coming.

          We can watch it now, live.

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