The opening of night of Valery Gergiev’s new London Symphony Orchestra concert season at the Barbican in London was disrupted last night (31 October) by a protest against Gergiev’s support for Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Shortly after the orchestra assembled on the stage, and before Gergiev made his entrance, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell strode on to the stage, dressed in a tuxedo, which led some in the audience to initially assume he was a Barbican spokesperson making an official announcement.
Mr Tatchell told the concert audience:
“Valery Gergiev is a friend, ally and supporter of the Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin, whose regime is arresting peaceful protesters and opposition leaders. Gergiev defends the new homophobic law that persecutes gay Russians. He sided with Putin against Pussy Riot. I ask you to oppose tyranny and show your support for the Russian people.”
He was manhandled off the stage by security staff and then voluntarily left the concert hall to some slow hand claps but mostly to applause.
After he exited the concert hall, Mr Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added:
“Gergiev’s loyalty to Putin has been rewarded with personal honours and massive state grants for his pet projects. Gergiev is a great conductor but he colludes with a tyrant and shows little concern for freedom and equality.
“I may have annoyed some concert-goers but others seemed supportive. It was all over in two minutes. Gergiev’s performance was only briefly delayed. I never intended to disrupt the concert; only to make a short, symbolic statement,” he said.
Gergiev’s name appears on a list of celebrity supporters of Putin, according to the Moscow Times:
In the run up to the last Russian elections, he publicly stated that he was voting for Putin:
His support for the repressive Putin regime was confirmed by Private Eye. Number 1350, 4-17 October 2013.
Valery Gergiev is principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of the world famous Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.