Columns Russian musicians are now losing their jobs in the West – but is it justified to put individual artists down because of Putin’s actions?

“Laugh at crazy beasts in time,” was Veikko Huovinen’s advice in the book Veitikka, which parodies Hitler, as early as the 1970s. If it had been followed in the West and in Russia, perhaps Putin would have been appalled some time ago, writes music journalist Samuli Tiikkaja.

Of the Russians the future of musicians in the west has become uncertain in a couple of weeks since Russia started the war in Ukraine. Many Russian artists have seen their work opportunities disappear in the West: in Finland, for example, the Kymi Sinfonietta was canceled by a violinist Nikita Boriso-Glebskin and conductor Jaroslav Zaborjakkin occurrence.

For example, the Dublin Piano Competition and the Honens Piano Competition in Calgary have ruled out Russian musicians.

Many Western concert organizers are demanding a visible resignation from the Russian and the dictator as a condition of their Russian guest performances. Vladimir Putin from the war. On the other hand, it would have difficulties on the home side, with the new law threatening up to 15 years in prison.

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Putin has been supporting for years Valery Gergiev and Anna Netrebko have not agreed to condemn Putin’s war, although they have expressed universal anti-war views. It has not been enough in the West, but Gergiev and Netrebko have lost their jobs in prominent places in Western music life.

Instead, a conductor Tugan Sohijevin the solution was to resign both from the position of musical director of the Bolshoi Theater and from the position of musical director of the National Orchestra of the Capitol of Toulouse. He felt unable to make a choice between West and East.

Gergiev, Netrebko and Sohiev are some of the most famous Russian musicians, and that is why they are also the most performing now. In addition, countless other musicians of Russian and Russian background have constantly performed around the world, now having to think about their future and livelihood.

Is an individual is it justified or not to reach out to artists because of Putin’s actions? Western sanctions are against Russian companies, politicians and oligarchs and not artists, so is the cancellation of their work in the West a sheer racism and a violation of human rights?

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Western sanctions have collapsed Russia’s economic system in a short time, which is, of course, their purpose. Their effectiveness is based on the fact that the whole of Russian society suffers from the actions of its rulers. So should artists get different freedoms?

However, the artists create soft power in their home countries, a strong example of which is the penetration of American popular culture in the daily lives of Finns as well.

Russia has invested especially in high culture and classical music. In Soviet times, for example Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Rostropovich had to create their country in political currents, and Rostropov had to emigrate to the West because he valued freedom of expression more than his native country. Instead, Shostakovich and Prokofiev remained in the Soviet Union and had to hide their possible protests in a form that the sensors did not notice.

It is pointless to compare artists like Gergiev and Netrebko to Soviet masters – they have sought to increase Russia’s soft power even when it would still have been possible to argue against Putin. Did they hear any protests about, for example, the conquest of Crimea or Sergei Skripalin and Alexei Navalnyin about novitok poisoning?

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“Laugh at the crazy beasts in time” was Veikko Huovinen advice Hitler parodying Little roguein the book as early as the 1970s. If it had been followed in the West and in Russia, perhaps Putin would have been appalled some time ago and the world would now look different.

It is perfectly understandable that artists fear for themselves and their loved ones and therefore do not feel that they can withdraw from Russian action. But that fear is certainly nothing compared to the horror experienced by Ukrainian civilians in the bombing of residential buildings and hospitals by Russia.

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