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Korean activists demand to drop Putin-linked Spivakov from music festival

No theater in the world should allow supporters of the Russian dictator and his aggressive policies to appear on stage, they say
Cancel Russian culture
Activists from Voices of Korea protest against the planned participation of Vladimir Spivakov in Seul on 21 April 2024. Credit: Voices in Korea
Korean activists demand to drop Putin-linked Spivakov from music festival

In South Korea, a group of activists is demanding that the organizers of a top-scale classical music festival cancel the participation of Vladimir Spivakov, a musician who is a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With the onset of Russia’s war against Ukraine, calls to cancel the performances of Russian artists, especially those supporting Putin, have grown louder. However, they still perform relatively without problems worldwide.

The activists from the Voices In Korea group organized a rally on Sunday, 21 April, outside the Lotte Center in Seoul, where the Classical Bridge International Music Festival and a concert by Spivakov are set to take place on 8 May.

Cancel Russian culture
Activists from Voices of Korea protest against the planned participation of Vladimir Spivakov in Seul on 21 April 2024. Credit: Voices in Korea

Conductor and violinist Spivakov signed a letter in support of Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014. However, after Russia’s full-scale invasion, he signed an appeal imploring Vladimir Putin to stop the war against Ukraine.

Despite signing this appeal, Spivakov continued to cooperate with Putin’s regime.

One of the top-paid artists in Russia, he is a member of the Presidential Council on Culture and Arts, along with Putin’s top propaganda artists: conductor Valery Gergiev, pianist Denis Matsuev, and ballerina Svetlana Zakharova.

Cancel Russian culture
Activists from Voices of Korea protest against the planned participation of Vladimir Spivakov in Seul on 21 April 2024. Credit: Voices in Korea

Following the full-scale invasion, Spivakov endorsed Russia’s occupation of Ukraine by organizing concerts in Russian-occupied Ukraine, as well as holding a concert in Moscow for children from occupied Ukraine, amid accusations of the Russian government of deporting these children, and the ICC issuing an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin in this regard.

Moreover, Spivakov endorsed Vladimir Putin’s 2024 “election” campaign, adding legitimacy to the predetermined outcome, as well as to the conduction of these elections in occupied Ukraine and Moldova, in blatant violation of international law.

The protesters demanded the cancellation of Spivakov’s invitation, arguing that his presence would be used for propaganda purposes, specifically to whitewash the image of Putin’s Russia:

Some Koreans support Russia in this war because they love Russian culture, including literature, ballet, and classical music. They simply cannot believe that a country with such a beautiful culture could become a cruel invader and imperialist power,” the activists explain in a change.org petition.

“We believe that in the Republic of Korea, a liberal democracy, it is unacceptable for war and Putin’s supporters to become richer.”

They highlighted Putin’s hostile stance towards South Korea and the military assistance provided to North Korea by his regime.

“Currently, Putin is helping North Korea develop weapons such as missiles and satellites. Kim Jong-un is very happy these days and no longer wants unification of Korea. He is happy because he has a new best friend, Mr. Putin,” the activists write.

Given this context, inviting Spivakov, who is seen as a collaborator of Putin, to perform in Seoul is deemed highly inappropriate. Voices In Korea intends to hold further demonstrations in Seoul and urges all concerned individuals to support their cause by signing a petition calling for the cancellation of Vladimir Spivakov’s concert.

Cancel Russian culture
Activists from Voices of Korea protest against the planned participation of Vladimir Spivakov in Seul on 21 April 2024. Credit: Voices in Korea

Two earlier concerts by Russia’s Bolshoi Theater in South Korea were canceled due to strong anti-war protests and the Ukrainian embassy. However, the cited reasons were related to technical issues, and not Russia’s war against Ukraine, which is problematic, the activists claim.

“Some concert promoters in Korea do not seem to care about ties these performers have with the murderous Putin regime. No theater in the world, including Korea, should allow supporters of the Russian dictator and his aggressive policies to appear on stage,” they stress.

To support the cause of the activists, consider signing their change.org petition to cancel Vladimir Spivakov’s concert in Korea.

Recently, the New York Ballet Gala canceled the participation of Russian ballet dancers from the Mariinsky Theater at the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition after a “bloody tutu” protest by anti-war protesters.

New York ballet bala drops Russian Mariinsky theater artists after “bloody tutu” protest

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