Meet Putin’s musical puppet

This is a Vladimir Putin’s ‘election’ rally in Moscow on March 3.

And who’s this on stage, backing up his President?

Maestro Gergiev.


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  • I recently read Angus Roxburgh’s book ‘Moscow Calling.’ It made me think both about Russia itself and about the West’s typical reactions to Russia. I don’t believe that using terms such as ‘Putin’s puppet’ are likely to help.

  • Simple question: why should Gergiev not back up his President?
    I mean, we all know there is a relentless US MIC propaganda machine drumming for isolation and eventually war with Russia, but aren’t we smarter than this? Maybe not.

    • “…aren’t we smarter than this?”

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. There was a time when this would have been a valid question.

      • Neither in the US. The US is a plutocracy, governing through a two party dictatorship effectively. Clever though, that two party pseudo-democracy show. The masses actually believe they have democracy, quite an achievement, that collective delusion.
        So back to my question. (also there are elections in Russia, arguably not less democratic than in the US, see above.)

          • So do all the US candidates, who are not vetted by the upper 1% and who can not cough up a billion dollar to run. Let’s stop the false equivalencies, but also the false differences, alright?

        • That’s just plain stupid. I’m not a total fan of our US election system (esp. the outdated Electoral College). But an incumbent President has to run for re-election and will face a well-funded candidate who has full access to all forms of media. No disqualifications on trumped-up criminal charges, no assassinations, etc.. And if Trump ends up serving a second term, that will be it. No “demoting” himself to Vice President so he can maintain the fiction of term limits before he runs again. To compare the US and Russian elections in this way is preposterous.

          As for Gergiev, it’s one thing to do things for the President in his role as President. Another to do so as Presidential candidate. He could take the courageous step of supporting Navalny, or more generally of supporting free and fair elections. He could walk away from Russia tomorrow and have a fantastic career. Rostropovich he isn’t.

          • stupid indeed. the “well funded candidate” opposing the incumbent is from which party? vetted by the same plutocracy the other candidate is vetted by. that’s not democracy. that’s a two party dictatorship of the plutocracy. No assassinations? Are you really sure? Check again.

            As for Gergiev: why should he leave his home country? He has responsibility for hundreds if not thousands of employees of Mariinsky. He likes his country. He is a friend of its president. What’s the problem?
            As for Rostropovich: it was the Soviet Union, not today’s Russia. You are not that old, that you can’t understand the difference, even though you have no real world knowledge about either?

  • It turns out that assassin Putin has attempted to kill two Russians (they may already be dead as I write this) in London in the last couple of days. I’m sorry but this rogue state has to be brought into line. A first step is ME ignoring them, their artists, orchestras and conductors. Done. Certainly never visiting the country. I suggest others follow suit.

        • Oh please, fallacy, guilty by association? Putin=Stalin because he is Russian? (Stalin was Georgian btw.) Are we going to count now the American holocaust victims as well, the native Indians? How far back do we go?

      • Stop propagating Russian propaganda. There are no 500,000 dead children in Iraq, and most of those who did die were killed by Iraqis, not by American forces. Unlike Russians, who bombed Syria indiscriminately and support the bloody tyrant Asad, who has no problem to use chemical weapons against civilians, American military takes outmost precautions to avoid civilian casualties, and when they do happen, (war is war), each case is carefully investigated and guilty are being punished. Your sorry attempt to find moral equivalency between Russian actions in Syria and American actions in Iraq (as misguided the latter were) is just plain wrong.

        • Lev, you are the one misguided here.
          And educate yourself first a bit better. The 500.000 children number – true or exaggerated, not the point – are discussed in relation to the crippling sanctions on Iraq, not the war itself. You have no idea, how the Syrian conflict was started as well. It was started by American money and support for a revolt. Go learn.
          The moral equivalency is actually worse for the US than it is for Russia, since Russia can to a degree at least claim to defend their interests close to their border. But what is the US doing in the Middle East?

    • Does it, Sue? You have better sources than many if you are sure Putin was behind this one. That’s quite a jump to make (one which Western journalists are only too willing to make on no evidence whatsoever, ironically complaining in the same paragraph about ‘fake news’)

  • Do any famous musicians support the orange imbecile in America?

    Sue no one has proof of what you claim …..yet.

  • Russia is led by a criminal regime guilty of war crimes in Ukraine and Syria, political assassinations and much more. Anyone openly supporting this regime is guilty by association and Gergiev is a fullhearted supporter of Putin. He must be ignored by musical establishment in the West and sent back to stay in Russia if western democracies have at least some principles left. Shame on those who are trying to justify Russian criminal behavior, and those calling on accommodating Russia are either fools or criminals.

    • It’s much more human, if war crimes are committed in the name of the dollar, Lev, your humanity shines, you spill the true gospel. While Russia has killed hundreds, the US has killed millions. Hail to the Dollar!

      • Russia has killed millions, too. Of their own. And by engineering a famine in the Ukraine. And fuelling wars in Africa (Angola) and the Middle East (Afghanistan)…

        • Let’s stick to the last 20 years, ok? Since the trolls are attacking Putin, and that’s about his time in leading functions in Russia.

          • Well, what about the events in Georgia and Ukraine under Putin’s watch? And the, you know, war in Syria? We may all rightly loathe the islamists and jihadists of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, but what about the islamists and jihadists of Iran? Putin is siding with them – without his air force and his troops, Tehran would have lost twenty times more fighters in Syria than they did. What good will come out for Russia (and Gergiev) of Putin supporting Khamenei as he is doing for several years straight now?

          • Georgia and Ukraine are instigated by US falcons. Easy to investigate and know about it. Putin is no saint, but which options does he have? “Please US-NATO, my door is open, Russia has no interest of its own, come in and rule my country”. Is that what you expect him to do?
            Syria is instigated by the US, secret operations and US special forces, as well. Again, what do you expect Russia to do? Sit on the sidelines? “Please, US, kill our ally in the Middle East and further draw the ring around Iran closer, which you eventually want to control, and with it the Caucasian basin. Please USA, please come, we are masochists, we want to be ruled by you.”

            Is that what you expect a sane leader of a country to do?

  • I wonder how much the fallout from Levine, Dutoit, etc. will have on orchestras in their pursuit of ethically-challenged maestros.

    Not that Gergiev’s cheerleading for Putin is morally equivalent to child abuse or sexual assault, but it does raise some interesting questions for presenters in the West.

    • “will influence orchestras,” that is.

      In other words, will orchestras take a sharper look at their maestros’ off-stage activities? It’s clear that Western orchestras have been willing to look the other way with Gergiev but this is pretty damning video.

    • Um…Gergiev probably has no influence on the election outcome, but is responsible for the Mariinsky theatre (which to me seems to be the only thing he really cares about). To be honest, while distasteful, I nevertheless think it understandable, and he probably has little real choice in the matter.

  • “Anon” is always at the ready with pre-packaged talking points whenever Putin and the Russian Kleptocracy (or their henchmen) are called out. It is classic troll-bot and should simply be recognized as such. While there usually is ample room for multiple perspectives – we in the West have much to concern ourselves with at home – the St Petersburg-based troll-bots raise propaganda to ever shriller heights. I actually find it more than a little sobering to witness the desperate flails of a society and system on a long, steady decline. Tragic stuff really.

    • Amazing, how easy the “troll” card is pulled, but nobody gives an argument or even tries to face the realities. It’s a collective delusion of grand proportions. Decades of brain washing, impossible to undo probably.
      The white elephant in the room is a belligerent and out of control US of A. Russia is no saint, but a much smaller and less powerful actor than we are made to believe, because the war machinery of the US needs big boogey men.
      The ignorance of the majority of the US population and many in the west is sickening, because it directly drives this world into the gutter.

      • Yes “Anon” we in the West are deluded, “brain washed” and ignorant. Well, perhaps it’s true we could never aspire to the lofty intellectual and spiritual heights of the average well-informed Russian citizen. Still, if that’s the best a paid propagandist can do then I say it’s back to the barracks for further training sir. I mean, you couldn’t sell a briefcase to a billionaire. Back you go!

        PS Phrases like “big boogey man” and “US of A” are comically off kilter. Now off you go!

  • Putin’s puppet? Pretty derogatory reference to a musician who has had held high level appointments in Germany, UK, and the USA – well outside of the control of the alleged puppet master .

    I would like to share the time I met Gergiev, at a restaurant, when the Mariinsky opera was on tour. I ran into him at a breakfast buffet. I had only seen him in print at that point. We chatted about a program he had conducted two years earlier with the Mariinsky Orchestra; he remembered the program exactly. He brought me over to his table to meet the star vocalist of that day’s performance. He was very friendly to…an audience member. So, to me he is the classic BIG man (in how he treats others) as well as a bigger than life conductor that can produce a performance that is memorable.

    So, I wonder what is the point of such a snarky headline?

    • +1
      Worked with him for several years. Nightmare rehearsals due to his poor time keeping, but a polite, friendly man with frequent chats about
      home life. Victim of his own success. And the Putin connection damns him in the eyes of the world…

  • Slipped Disc picks sides. In the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia is wrong and Ukraine is right. There are no counter-arguments that penetrate.

    • What about “Fuck Europe” and five billion US $ for putting the Ukraine opposition, a few Nazis included, on steroids and create unrest? Doesn’t penetrate, eh?

      • Ah – the Nazi card. That explains everything. All settled then! No wait… what about the CIA? And $US Billions?? Whew, this is becoming a veritable train wreck of conspiracies. What a tangle. Think I’ll just get back to watching the game: Krasnoyarsk Kleptocrats vs Archangelsk Oligarchs. A real cliffhanger!

        • And you don’t realize how idiotic you sound, knowing nothing about the background and events of recent history, but opening your mouth with your moronic opinion nevertheless, in typical American fashion? How about learning and thinking a tiny bit first, before beginning to bark with your engrained Pawlowian reflexes?

  • As this blog is supposed to relate to the arts, shouldn’t someone point out that Putin’s support of the arts in StPetersburg, Moscow and Russia in general is impossible to ignore.

    • Oh it’s very possible to ignore anything, even that gravity exists. Ask a psychologist about phobia disorders, and how collective disorders multiply the severity of the individual psychopathological symptoms.
      There are a lot of mindsets in this world that are stuck in old imprints, having lost the flexibility to adapt to the real world changing around them.

      • Ignore that gravity exists? Check.

        Phobia disorders X collective disorders = individual pathology? Check.

        Mindset stuck in old imprints + inability to adapt to real world changes? Check.

        Guilty as charged. Off to the gulag!

        (At least none of us was poisoned…)

  • Come now, Gergiev is as much a puppet of Putin as Norman Lebrecht is of the European Globalist Order. You pretend to be a music critic, but you actually write second rate political attacks. Where is the commentary on the quality of performance? Where are real and original suggestions on how music making can be improved? This writing is of a political puppet, attacking another political puppet. Neither have anything to do with real art.

        • Harry,

          My point is that this site should major in music, the quality of performance, news of performers, concerts, events, trends etc.
          There are certain topics and individuals that Norman knows will cause disagreement and contention. He takes the opportunity to post controversial headlines which invite “clicks” and that appears to be his prime motive.
          This is a sensationalist approach and I wish he would drop it.

          • Derek,

            Agree with your thoughts. My comment was directed to David’s use of the word “globalism”. In a meeting today, Trump directed the term to Gary Cohen, his Jewish out-going Economic Advisor, much to the chagrin of the Internet. The term is accepted as “Anti-Semitic “.

          • “This is a sensationalist approach and I wish he would drop it”

            Um…it is what funds the website…without it and the clicks there would be no Slipped-Disc.

          • Saxon Broken,

            I accept that clicks count but please, no need to let standards sink too low.

            Incidentally, out of curiosity, I wonder whether your title is related to “Broken Heroes”. My partner’s great, great grandfather was a thrice wounded survivor from the six hundred in the light brigade that rode into the valley (I believe mentioned in the song).

  • Nothing sinister here. In fact, if the choice is between having Trump, May or Putin as leader most people in the West would most likely prefer the latter.

  • Reassuring to note that just as few of the platform party knew all the words to the national anthem as in equivalent gatherings in the UK!

  • I was stunned when I read, a few years ago, that Gergiev was rather high on the Forbes list of Russian wealthy and is a multi-millionaire several times over. His fees, of course, are good and his number of engagements every year are above almost everybody but this is not the source of his wealth. He has controlling interest in Russian-based international businesses, meat packing, etc. and he certainly did not create this business empire in his spare time. He has been clearly bought and paid for by the government and is now an important symbol for Russia and Putin and, because of that, shares the wealth divided among the Putin elite.

  • As anthems go, the Russsian anthem stands out as one of the most stirring and beautiful (much nicer than my home country’s – Belgium – or the Marseillaise). The lyrics are a bit over the top but that’s a characteristic for most anthems.

  • Yes,
    … regardless of strange and aggressive text of Russian anthem …
    the event is strongly reminding Hitler´s mass events at sport arenas in Germany 1930´s.

  • Reading just this one thread, which is not much different from many others on this site in that respect, should be sufficient enough to see that there are plenty of published comments here that not only question but strongly contradict NL’s views, so this accusation is obviously false and clearly unfair.

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