Valery Gergiev announces ‘full support’ for Putin’s annexation of Crimea

Valery Gergiev announces ‘full support’ for Putin’s annexation of Crimea


norman lebrecht

March 12, 2014

The Mariinksy conductor has once again appended his name to a Putin initiative. In Izvestia today, he joins 20 other cultural personalities in calling for the union of Russia and Crimea. Yuri Bashmet, Denis Matsuev and Vladimir Spivakov are among other musicians who signed the letter.

The letter is published in Izvestia. We present a rough English translation, followed by the original.





Russian cultural figures – in support of the President’s position in Ukraine and Crimea

In the days when the fate of our compatriots in the Crimea is decided, Russian cultural figures can not be indifferent observers with a cold heart . Our common history, our cultural roots and spiritual origins , our fundamental values ​​and language have united us forever. We want to see the commonality of our peoples and our cultures have a strong future. That is why we firmly reiterate support for the position of President of the Russian Federation and Ukraine Crimea.



«Деятели культуры России — в поддержку позиции Президента по Украине и Крыму

В дни, когда решается судьба Крыма и наших соотечественников, деятели культуры России не могут быть равнодушными наблюдателями с холодным сердцем. Наша общая история и общие корни, наша культура и ее духовные истоки, наши фундаментальные ценности и язык объединили нас навсегда. Мы хотим, чтобы общность наших народов и наших культур имела прочное будущее. Вот почему мы твердо заявляем о поддержке позиции Президента Российской Федерации по Украине и Крыму.

Читайте далее:

Click the link for a full list of signatories.


  • Rachel D. says:

    Hi Norman, [redacted]

    The text you mentioned never refers to Putin as “President of Russia and Ukraine-Crimea”. The final sentence in Izvestia actually says: “That is why we firmly declare our support for the position of President of the Russian Federation regarding Ukraine and Crimea”.

  • ed says:

    Good for Gergiev and his fellow signatories. They are on the right side of history with this one, while the West is not. Let’s hope that Merkel finally musters some courage and that the Germans talk and use good sense with their fellow EU members, and right the US-EU-NATO ship that up to now has been torpedoing itself and self imploding. (For those who are looking for strong analysis, and not the disinformation nonsense we are being fed by the mainstream media, there are many good articles on this issue, and Ukraine generally, by some of finest former U.S. government intelligence officials and journalists at:

    • Brian says:

      Nothing like an unreconstructed communist pro-soviet cheering section. Ah the good old days. Almost like having Zinn back.

    • MacroV says:

      Methinks you need to take a little crash course in international law and the binding nature of treaties (including the one Russia signed in 1994 that guaranteed Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity). End of story.

      • sdReader says:

        MacroV, the problem is that the treaty was signed by a legitimate Ukraine government, and Putin could argue that the present Kiev régime is illegitimate.

        • Christy says:

          He could argue, but he would be lying. There is absolutely no legal way to suggest that the current government is illegitimate. Anyone could say it, but it doesn’t make it true.

          The Parliament was elected in 2010, and continues working as it has since then with nearly the exact same members who were elected at that time. The country is a parliamentary republic. The Parliament impeached the president after he was shown on surveillance video meticulously packing his belongs into a number of vehicles and then fleeing at 2 AM in a military helicopter. The impeachment was supported by over 90% of the elected parliament, including the Communists and the president’s own party. The other 10% have fled because of corruption and international money laundering investigations.

          The parliament then elected a PM, according to their constitution, in the same way several legitimate PMs were elected previously. Again, 90% of the parliament voted, including the Communists and the former president’s party. They then named the Parliamentary Speaker as Acting President (with far fewer powers than the PM), according to their constitution, with a big majority vote, and set a new presidential election for May, unanimously. This was all done on live television with recorded individual votes flashed simultaneously on the tv screen.

          There is absolutely no question that the government is legitimate. To claim otherwise is nothing but lies, ignorance or both.

        • m2n2k says:

          That may indeed be a problem, but Putin’s aggressive military actions appear to be directed not against the regime in Kiev (which may or may not be as flawed as the previous one) specifically, but precisely against the entire country’s (Ukraine) sovereignty and territorial integrity.

  • janey says:

    I support the idea that he stay full time in the great Mother Russia to conduct.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Perhaps they have to appear supportive in order to get government support. I don’t think artists should ever become involved in politics voluntarily .

  • Alex says:


  • Brian says:

    I’m guess that this sort of thing will have no bearing on Gergiev, Bashmet or Matsuev’s international career – presenters will keeping booking them and audiences will keep buying tickets. People in the West like to cling to the notion that an artist’s political beliefs are meaningless to their art whereas Russians seem to hold music and politics closely together.

  • Patrick says:

    Norman – could you also highlight the numerous British figures, particularly in banking, who are reluctant to advocate for any sanctions regarding Putin’s brazen land grab?

  • LaFong says:

    Sycophantic muppet.

  • maestro says:

    Putin`s pet-dog?!

  • Marshall says:

    You might at least understand him staying mum on anything political-going I am an artist route. But Gergiev has shown himself lacking the courage to go public with what Putin really is-and that predates the Ukraine situation. So we must assume that this stand represents his true political views, because he has many options available to him in terms of his career.

    It is particualrly sad when we think of what Soviet musicians had to go through-and what they were forced to say and be-but they had no choice. When they did, many, of course, fled.

    Does he conduct Shostakovich? If so how doesn’t he choke on it?

    • PR Deltoid says:

      “Does he conduct Shostakovich? If so how doesn’t he choke on it?”

      Why would he choke? Shostakovich himself bowed to the authorities many times, and was frequently rewarded for it. You don’t get two Stalin Prizes and a Lenin Prize by being a dissident.

      (Note: I am not condemning Shostakovich, just opposing the now-popular image of him as some heroic crypto-struggler against communism)

      • Marshall says:

        Funny you missed my whole point.

        That being that earlier Soviet musicians didn’t have any options-Gulag or death, I suppose. I have no idea what bravery you are capable of (do you?)-( even if I could have fled can you imagine leaving your family, friends behind to suffer and die) can you imagine your world controlled by Stalin, with no options ?

        You need to understand Shostakovich’s realities more deeply.

        Gergiev can speak out, leave Russia-he can work anywhere?

        (PS in my earlier comment-the line should have read ‘When they COULD, many, of course fled”)

        • David Nice says:

          Simple: he conducted the Seventh Symphony to celebrate the new imperial Russia’s triumps over the ‘fascist’ Georgian enemy in South Ossetia. Even then I thought it amazing that no one protested at the LSO concerts which immediately followed. But there are plenty of opportunities to wake up and do so now – not least in Trafalgar Square in May.

          I second the proposal that he stick to Russia – we’ve had enough now. And this from someone who used to admire him, enjoyed meeting him and thinks he can still occasionally turn in a good performance. But oddly his performances seem to be collapsing under the weight of his Mephistophelian pact.

  • harold braun says:

    If fascism is on the rise there,and many Ukranian friends living there have told me so,than Maestro Gergiev and Mr.Putin are right.Period,for me at least!

    • Christy says:

      Who are these “friends”? Where are they? Every single religious leader in the country, including all Jewish leaders throughout the whole country, contradicts your statement.

      • sdReader says:

        Christy, should we not look at Crimea separately, given its already “autonomous” standing?

        • Christy says:

          Every single religious leader, including those in Crimea, which is SEMI-autonomous, have been absolutely categorical that there is no problem with fascism or anti-semitism in Ukraine. There are Jewish organizations – several of them – in Crimea. They were formed with the support of Ukraine’s leaders after independence. They have been peaceful, free and accepted. Not anymore.

          • harold braun says:

            Christy,I am jewish,and many of my friends there are.They all say that anti semitic demonstrations,including beating up people and similar things,have increased drastically over the past weeks and months.

          • Andrey says:

            Russia has its own problems with neo-nazis. I remember numerous beatings and neo-nazi protests being organized last year (for example in Voronezh)

          • Anonymus says:

            Christy, you are not telling the truth.


          • Gonout Backson says:

            Anynonymus, you’re so obvious… Your quote is from the 22th of February.

            Here’s what the same Rabbi said the Guardian yesterday:

            “Ukraine’s chief rabbi, Moshe Reuven Azman, told the Guardian there has been no evidence of an antisemitic backlash, either before or after the revolution. The main synagogue in Kiev, a few hundred metres from the Maidan, was untouched, he said. Israeli volunteers had treated some of the wounded. Asked what he thought of Right Sector, he replied: “I haven’t read their programme.” He went on: “I’ve been in touch with Jewish communities across Ukraine. Nobody told us of antisemitic statements.”

          • Anonymus says:

            Gonout, the only one who is obvious here – in his pathological hate of Russia – is you. So the Rabbi changed his mind apparently. I wonder why.

            His earlier statement “there are constant warnings concerning intentions to attack Jewish institutions.”

            … He said the Israeli embassy told members of the Jewish community to avoid leaving their homes…”

            can’t just have been pulled out of the thin air. But it doesn’t fit your agenda… Oh well. We know by now that you have a personal axe to grind with this issue apparently, nobody takes your opinion seriously as a well balanced POV anyway.

        • Christy says:

          One of the great tragedies is that, if Russia stays, the world will lose one of the few places that exist where Jews, Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox Christians lived peacefully and freely, as one community.

        • m2n2k says:

          We may “look” at it separately as much as we like but without forgetting for a single second that according to international law it is still an integral and legitimate part of the country of Ukraine.

          • Anonymus says:

            It would be wonderful, if those powers now appealing to international law, would be credible because they always complied with international law themselves.

            If we western nations could pay our debts with hypocrisy, we would be wealthy debt free nations indeed.

          • m2n2k says:

            In the Perfect World perhaps it would, but if we stop “appealing to international law”, it is not going to bring us closer to that PW – quite the opposite would likely occur.

    • Christy says:

      @Harold Braun You haven’t answered my question about where, because no one else has said what you just did. Nowhere. None of the Jewish leaders, none of the Muslim leaders. Not one. In fact, Ukrainians just began attempting to evacuate Jews and Tatars from Crimea – both groups have requested evacuation and protection by Ukrainian authorities. What you and your “friends” are saying simply doesn’t correspond to one single thing said by any of the leaders of the Jewish community.

      So I ask:

      1. Where is this increase? And what specifically happened? Who did it?

      2. Why would the Jewish community leaders throughout Ukraine, including in Western Ukraine, deny this so vehemently (even yesterday giving press conferences to do so)?

  • timwalton3 says:

    Obviously Gergiev et al, have no more morals than that cretin Putin

    Gergiev, Bashmet, Matsuev and Spivakov & any others who support this Immoral dictator deserve all the flack they get

    What a cowardly bunch of psychofantic arse (apologies for my french) lickers they are.

  • Christy says:

    This is one of the most well-written, accessible yet scholarly, articles I have seen on the basics of the Ukraine situation.

  • Nekoloff says:

    Is Netrebko among the signatories also? Being on the Olympics stage has a price I suppose…

    • Christy says:

      She is not.

    • MacroV says:

      Netrebko’s endorsement would be particularly appalling, given that she would give it with the full security of Austrian citizenship. The others at least have the decency of basing themselves in Russia.

  • Bang Bang says:

    Neocon lunatic Victoria ” F*** the EU” Nuland admits that the US spent 5 billion USD in subversion of Ukraine

    • Gonout Backson says:

      The title of the article is “American Conquest by Subversion: Victoria Nuland’s Admits Washington Has Spent $5 Billion to “Subvert Ukraine””, where “subvert Ukraine” is put between quotation marks, suggesting that she has actually used these very words.

      Of course, she didn’t, but how many stop at the title and leave, satisfied?

      Google “Nuland admits subversion” and you get more than 13 000 results. Try “Nuland admits”, and it raises to 360 000, with many interesting, creative variations.

      An Asian site, otherwise unknown to me ( writes (repeating partly Mr. Bang Bang’s title): “Victoria Nuland was caught on tape last week confirming that the U.S. is now openly spending 5 billion US dollars to effect ‘regime change’ in Ukraine.” Almost every word here is untrue: she wasn’t “caught”, because she spoke in public, it wasn’t “last week”, but two months earlier, she didn’t “confirm” “that the US is now openly spending 5 billion…”, because the 5 billion cover 23 years of spending, and, of course, she didn’t “confirm” the dollars were paid “to effect regime change in Ukraine”, because there were many regime changings in Ukraine…


  • Roberto Juan Gonzalez says:

    Still remember Furtwangler conducting Beethoven 9th for Nazis. Compare with Kubelik’s valor. Some conductor’s have courage in the faces of political jerks and murderers.

  • Sergey says:

    Strictly speaking, the letter is in support of VVP’s policy about the Ukraine and Crimea which doesn’t automatically equal to the latter’s annexation. The colonel even said on March 4 that the annexation scenario wasn’t even under consideration and that the Crimean people were to decide upon their fate by themselves (whatever it should mean under the circumstances).

    • Christy says:

      Yes, the Crimeans are “to decide upon their fate by themselves”. This is after all entrance into Crimea is blocked, all flights from and to Ukraine cancelled, 20 thousand Russian soldiers patrol the streets with loaded weapons, Tatars homes are marked with Xs, Ukrainians are having their passports confiscated so they cannot vote, and…

      … the ballot provides no option to vote no to joining Russia (you may only check yes), while there is no option to vote to stay within Ukraine. The status quo is not any option anywhere on any ballot.

      Tell me, how is this deciding for themselves?

      • Anonymus says:

        AFAIK the ballot asks for either joining the Russian Federation

        or for returning to the constitution of 1992, which granted the Crimea autonomous status.

  • Sergey says:

    Christy, I generally agree with you (c.f. my addendum in parentheses) even though you’re slightly distorting the picture but this is irrelevant here nonetheless because we are talking about alleged support of Putin’s position as declared in his speech and not of his actions. This difference is too often the case with politicians universally.

  • Pixy Harris says:

    Too much self-righteousness on this thread instead of a balanced view of the situation (given by the first poster).