Top violinist says: Don’t shake hands with Russians

Top violinist says: Don’t shake hands with Russians

Posted by Lisa Batiashvili, following the incident at the Brussels Queen Elisabeth Competition:

Congratulations to Dmitro Udovychenko on winning the first prize of 2024 Queen Elisabeth Competition!
If the European society accepts the attitude of Russian artists who have not clearly expressed themselves against the aggressions of the Russian government and their military -particularly during the invasion in Ukraine- and are residing European cities, getting fees, raising children, and at the same time are still active in their homeland Russia, where all cultural events are more or less strongly tied with Putin and his allies, why don’t we accept and respect the decision of a young Ukrainian musician,whose country has been by now entirely destroyed, hundreds of thousands killed, tortured, deported to Russia, etc..to refuse shaking hands with a Russian jury member ?
Of course, the war is not what we musicians want, and I am sure that most of us don’t support it, but I will tell my story.
In 2008, Russia invaded South Ossetia, territory of Georgia. This invasion not only took a substantial part of my small country out of the map but also caused hundreds of thousands of refugees and a creeping occupation that still takes place in Georgia. This annexation was followed by a victorious concert of Mr. Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra in front of the cages where Georgian inhabitants were held hostage.
A very close Russian friend of mine, a renowned musician who is residing and working in Europe, commented on this war like this: “It is all the fault of your Georgian President, he thinks of him as a great friend of America. Georgia is a small country, don’t have illusions.”
Him and many other colleagues would never be questioned for their attitude , but of course, nobody wants to be responsible for the government that has not changed in Russia since 2002 and is constantly working on destabilising several European and pro European countries.
I would not judge this complex situation without trying to understand what is happening in lives of those whose families and homes are being bombed and their cities erased. As European citizen,I hope we can be grateful for what we have and protect the values that we aspire to represent. Scepticism, ignorance, indifference, or false and naive statements have no place in today’s world

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