Valery Gergiev: ‘Am I supposed to shout that Russia has a terrible president’?

In a forthright interview with Deutsche Welle, the incoming conductor of the Munich Philharmonic calls Vladimir Putin ‘unique’ and ‘smarter than most others’.

He also maintains he can work quite well in the much-derided Gasteig hall. Read here.

Russian President Putin presents a Hero of Labour award to Mariinsky theatre director Gergiev during an awards ceremony in St. Petersburg

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  • Putin is certainly smarter than Cameron or Hollande, though this only shows what mediocre leaders there are in the West.

    • And smarter than Mrs.Merkel, for that matter.She likes to be seen in concert halls and opera houses,but if it’s to support them she only talks.Again,I agree with Maestro Gergiev

      • Err, you do know that the German constitution doesn’t give the Federal Government much say or pay in cultural issues? This is mainly a state business.

    • What nonsense. I see by the rest of your comments that you are some apologist or supporter of Putin. Yea, his domestic policies are great-no freedom, state control, and now with the price of oil down, economic disaster.

      Poor Russia, as the foold bemoans at the end of Boris-what a wretched history-Putin continues the tradition.

      • There is this story of a mishap at the end of a Boris production which symbolism seems all the more appropriate nowadays: they had used real horses and one of them, expressing its contempt for the staging, had dropped its final digesting product in the middle of the podium just before that last scene where the fate of Russia is bemoaned. To save the performance, the light director gave the repulsive object a full spotlight as to underline the text.

  • “Einmalig” ist er eben nicht….

    Otherwise, classical demagoguery from a cynical, calculating hypocrite : the margin is very wide between “screaming Russia has a terrible president” and licking this president’s hand, while signing servile declarations of support as soon as he invades another country, or murders another journalist and/or opponent.


    • If you are as severe with yourself as you are towards others, you are a model citizen and will get my vote in any election in which you choose to take part!

      • Very curious statement, suggesting that 1. you don’t share my contempt for VG, but 2. find nothing substantial to say on the subject (when has VG been elected? when has even VP been honestly elected?).

        I’m afraid you just missed an excellent opportunity to say nothing.

        • VP was elected by a huge majority of the Russians. And if there would be elections today, he would be elected again. You might not like it and you might not like Russians – obviously – but stop trolling with your hatred or alternatively start using rational argument please.

          • You are absolutely correct about VP’s popularity at home and that is the strongest possible condemnation of Russian majority’s political maturity.

          • Meanwhile, M2N2K, American voters “maturely” vote again and again for the Dem/Rep double headed Cerberus, the American version of a dictatorial one-party system, yet they will choose carefully which head they want. Now THAT is a clever system of deception.

          • Here’s a rational argument for you : ALL of the national media are controlled by Putin and his clique. Not a dissenting voice is heard on them. No open debate during the campaigns, since the opposition has hardly any access to these stations. For more than a year now they have been vomiting lies and hate of goebbelsian proportions.

            There is one independent paper (Novaya Gazeta), one radio (Ekho Moskvy), and one TV station (Dozhd) in all Russia, all of them moscovite, three classical “helsinkoid” alibis.

            Thousands of people have protested against the fake presidential elections in 2012, after the ludicrous magic trick between Putin and Medvedev no serious “rule of law” democracy would have tolerated.

            Either you don’t know it, so don’t speak about it, or you do know it – and the conclusion is obvious. Whatever it is, you’re not even funny.

          • @anon
            “Meanwhile, M2N2K, American voters “maturely” vote again and again for the Dem/Rep double headed Cerberus, the American version of a dictatorial one-party system, yet they will choose carefully which head they want. Now THAT is a clever system of deception.”

            God, would I love to get a dollar for every time I heard this archeo-marxist tune about “fake freedom”, “fake democracy” and other “false consciousness”… I could buy the Mariinsky and everything in it.

          • Gounot, it’y not fake, it’s the reality. The American system has the advantage of economic prosperity and the control over the world’s financial markets. That’s the freedom there. Real political freedom: forget it. How much money does it cost again to mount a candidacy for higher political office?

            As far as Russia and your “argument” is concerned. We both might not like it, how Russia is run internally. But that’s none of our business, that’s the business of the Russian people first of all. (who vote overwhelmingly for Putin…)
            We have to treat Russia as a sovereign state, with all rights and duties that encompasses. And here the US is the biggest hypocrite, because the US has lost *any* credibility on the international stage, since the US is the most aggressive, most expansive, most belligerent country of our times, fact. The Ukraine conflict is the most recent example. Ukraine would not be a war torn bankrupt hellhole, if the US had not stirred unrest up there big time (and big money).

          • “Ukraine would not be a war torn bankrupt hellhole, if the US had not stirred unrest up there big time (and big money).”

            It’s a lie – a lie the Russian propaganda has been repeating over and over for 16 months.

            Apparently, it works on you.

          • Gounot, you can keep your head in the sand as much as you want. It’s quite clear that Maidan protests, at least the militant fraction of it, and subsequent violent coup in Kiev was made possible by continuous and substantial support and influence of US entities. It’s been verified by many independent outside sources.

          • Isn’t it convenient sometimes to believe certain things some of those terrible corrupt Western media outlets say when it seems to suit you best? Personally, I prefer to trust information when it comes from sources that are much closer to the actual events.

    • I don’t see how one can call Gergiev a hypocrite when he has always made his position perfectly clear.

      • Not as clear as that. As early as in the “gay bashing” affair, he has always tried to muddle the issue, saying one thing (to the Western press), and doing another (at home). This eristic salto mortale is just the latest example of his technique.

        In Russian it’s called “честь сохранить и капитал собрать”.

  • No, you’re not.

    But if you choose to publicly claim “Russia has a great president” and to actively support his aggressive foreign as well as his reactionary domestic policy (and you have repeatedly done so), you have to face dissenting opinions.

    That’s it.

  • Putin’s domestic policy has been better than his foreign policy. The West’s sanctions are undoing this – to the detriment to the ordinary, innocent Russian citizen.

  • I do not expect Gergiev to scream that Russia has a bad president. He has a huge company to protect. I do expect dignified silence and a repetition of the fact that he is a musician not a politician.

  • Gergiev could just go about his business quietly, and many might understand that if he wants the Maryinsky to have government support, he probably needs to make nice with the leadership.

    Alternatively, unlike others, Gergiev could criticize, leave Russia tomorrow and have the whole music world open to him.

  • Lebrecht doesn’t like Putin so censors any mention of his good points – and there are a few. As always, his views are exaggerated and those of a bigot.

  • If Gergiev would do “Fidelio” in Moscow, that would be a statement. Maybe we will get to enjoy rightly forgotten works by second- and third rate Soviet masters in the future. I mean, now that Generalissimus Stalin is enjoying a big comeback…

    It is a bit unsettling to have a “Reichsgeneralmusikdirektor” now taking up the baton in the town which, in a dark past, prided itself on being “Hauptstadt der Bewegung”. Maybe Gergiev would do well by performing Miecyszlaw Weinberg’s “Die Passagierin” at his first concert in Munich. The relevance of this suppressed and all too long unrecognized masterpiece would not go unnoticed. That said: Would he be able to perform it in today’s Russia as well, I wonder?

    • He saved his country from chaos when the Soviet Union broke up. He has raised the general standard of living or at least had done until the righteous of the West weighed in with their sanctions.

      • First and foremost, he “improved the standard of living” of himself and his clique of billionaires. Building nothing lasting with the oil-gas money, since most of it stays abroad.

        That’s why the catastrophic fall of oil prices hit the Russian economy so cruelly. Because in ten years of “venezuelian” prosperity he did the same thing Chavez did : nothing.

        What’s even more interesting, the overcautious, Western sanctions (which he himself provoked, aggressing a neighbour) did less harm to the general population, than his revengeful “embargoes” against some of the Western agricultural products based on ludicrous “sanitary” pretexts.

    • Putin doesn’t do the kissing. He bends over and expects everyone to kiss his a☆☆☆.

      What good points can an egotistical, degenerate despot have. Yes, he might be clever, but so was Stalin and we fell for him until we realised that he had more people killed than Hitler.

      If Gergiev kept his big mouth shut, for a change, people wouldn’t keep on criticising him. The idiot only has himself to blame.

  • Putin’s good points? He saved Russia from chaos when the USSR broke up. He improved the general standard of living – until the virtuous of the West imposed their sanctions and made poor Russians poorer.

    • You don’t get anywhere in russia without kissing the appropriate places ,then when it
      all pays off and you are finally chief boss you murder your opposition whether they be Ukrainians or home grown , it is the history of russia ……

    • You give sanctions too much credit, however right I might wish you were. Putin’s bringing of higher living standards miraculously coincided with a long-run rise in oil prices. And now those living standards are falling due to falling oil prices. As much as I wish it were sanctions that were bringing this about, they are only really having an effect in preventing Russian companies from accessing western capital markets.

      What Putin did bring was the taming of the Yeltsin-era group of oligarchs and letting his own St. Petersburg and KGB cronies stick their snouts in the trough, stealing hundreds of billions from the Russian people. Putin’s gradual turning of the screws on domestic freedom have been well-recounted elsewhere and need not be repeated here. Russia remains a demographic nightmare – high drug use, high rate of AIDS infection, high rates of alcoholism and male life expectancy still around 60. But heck, what’s all that compared to a restored sense of national pride, an Olympics and a World Cup?

      • Let’s assume you are right. Now what is the strategy for Europe?
        The only good strategy is to integrate Russia into economic and security partnership within bigger Europe. Russia is culturally a part of Europe.
        But that is not, what the Masters in Washington want, because they fear a strong Europe that could eventually be a bigger world power that the US more than anything else. So here we are, 25 years of American active destabilization of Europe later.
        Read Brzezinki’s “Grand Chessboard” and you will begin to understand the real game that is played.

  • Putin didn’t ‘save’ Russia, Yeltsin was in charge during the transition period. Sanctions are necessary when leaders threaten peace by annexing territories and thereby violating international laws. The world could be a better place if it had reacted similarly in 1938 with another famous dictator…

    Anyways, this is not a political but musical forum.

    Gergiev should stay out of politics, especially if it’s aimed against those who pay for his living…

  • Putin saved Yeltsin’s chaos and has now created his own. About his apologists/supporters there is an interesting article:

  • Many dictators who did terrible things in the past were probably quite smart and definitely “unique”… smart doesn’t mean good.

  • I read Gergiev’s interview again. President Putin likes children’s choirs. Many rulers did and do. I assume Gergiev makes a case for music education through singing, right from kindergarten. Conceded. The BBC world service recently carried s feature in which school children sang patriotic songs, the style and contents of which harked back to Soviet times. I wish the maestro well in Munich. But I am not too optimistic that he will build bridges. Too many of them have been burned, I am afraid.

  • One shouldn’t forget that Gergiev hasn’t committed any crimes and has done no harm except to himself. His position is similar to that of Karajan, who was only a token member of the Nazi party but wasn’t allowed to forget it for the rest of his days. And no, I am not comparing Putin’s regime to that of Hitler; only someone with a very hazy notion of history would do that.

    • I can’t recall if all the “token ” dead of Auschwitz “went home after the war,& joined
      Karajan in a welcome home “token ” picnic/ . Gergiev can easily be viewed as a
      present day “token ” Karajan type opportunist .Suck up to power ,never mind the
      dead , they are but disposable obstacles to power .

      • This is syllogistic thinking. Although the German and Austrian people were responsible for Hitler’s taking over their countries, they could not have foreseen the death camps. Karajan was in no way to blame for the atrocities.

  • Gergiev should stay out politics? Easy to say considering that he is artistically responsible of the principal arts institution wich also happens to be the closest to the Government, and with at least 3.000 employees!….

    • Many Russian artists did not sign letters of support for VP’s policies and as far as I know none of those has been seriously persecuted yet. For now, the dictatorship is still too busy murdering opposition leaders and journalists.

      • Yes, but there also is a huge difference between “not being persecuted” as a free artist responsible for nobody but oneself, or having responsibility for a famous state funded cultural corporation that is a national treasure and that employs 3.000 people.

        • It seems anon is comfortable with the employment numbers in mother russia …it seems for every apparatchik who has a job there are two who are murdered in the Ukraine .Let’s
          see..3,000 apparatchiks have jobs ..6,000 are killed .Quite a price for a national treasure.

  • Can somebody give me a list of the American leaders of major cultural institutions, who spoke out publicly against the recent illegal US wars, that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands innocent people? And those are mostly privately funded institutions, not state run…
    I would like to see the list of all these wonderful righteous people.

    oh all the bigotry and disgusting self-righteousness.

      • Precisely. But since the good, old, Soviet “and you’re lynching n…..s” is the only line of defense the “anon” (whichever it is) has left, what can he/she do, the poor lamb?

        • Well, Gounot, we know your hateful anti-russian comments here well.
          Now, America actually is lynching the “n*****s” of this world, the theaters change, but the “subhumans” are lynched everywhere. Now is this a collateral damage of the american version of “freedom” (read US control) or what?
          Can America kill thousands, because they feel they are the good ones, and Putin kills dozens, and he is the bloody dictator?
          In which sand box this “logic” has risen to infantile minds as a justification for usurpation of the world?

  • No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, but self-defense is always a cause that is far more noble than doing whatever seems to increase dictator’s power at the expense of the country’s own population and its weaker neighbors. And for most of us who grew up there, these “anti-russian” comments are not hateful at all but an expression of frustration and sadness for the land and its people with whom we feel many cultural connections – particularly after hopeful 1990s when it seemed like they finally made a turn toward better future. That hope is unfortunately lost for now.

  • Dear “anon” : as M2N2K rightly says, you enthusiastically believe what the “capitalist” media say as long as it fits the lies you have been taught. If it doesn’t – they “lie”.

    The two stories you quote prove absolutely nothing. The Western media are very easily manipulated, and the putinesque propaganda does wonders. “ONE MAN tells a different story”? Yeah, right.

    Maybe this time you will answer the question I have been asking you for months : how much, per day and per capita, for standing three months out in the cold, being beaten and shot at.

    A straight answer, please – since you pretend, these thousands of people have been paid.

    And once again : there has been not “violent coup” in Kiev. It’s a putinesque lie you shamelessly repeat. The President took all the stolen money he could and fled the country with his acolytes. His own, legally elected Parliament named a provisional government. Three months later a new President was democratically elected. Six months after that a new Parliament was democratically elected. No one has ever contested these elections, even Moscow recognized them.

    Stop repeating these lies. Stop insulting the Ukrainian people – and our intelligence.

    P. S. My nick isn’t Gounot, it’s Gonout. Another thing you’re wrong about.

    • You don’t need to pay thousands, all you need is a handful of special forces on the ground and a few dozen local mercenaries who stir up the shit for you. You can’t be that naive not to know that this procedure has been applied by the US successfully for decades in many countries. You know yourself that with your pathological hatred toward Russia you are the last person who could give a balanced assessment of the situation. Who are you kidding?

      • Tens of thousands. For three months. Out in the cold. Beaten and shot at.

        Clearly, Victoria Nuland commands a batallion of Jedi Knights.

      • I know this tape by heart. It contains nothing of the kind. And nothing has happened “exactly” as they say.

        You should rather ask yourself WHO has recorded this conversation, WHY he did it, and WHY it’s been published on the net.

        But there is another, even more painflu question : why, listening to it, some people – like you – believe they actually hear something that isn’t even there…

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