Ukrainian official calls on allies to ‘boycott’ Russian culture

Oleksandr Tkachenko said pausing Russian performances until the war is over would be an ‘important step’.

Pyrotechnics during the grand finale of the final performance lead by Stephen Barlow conducting the Bournemouth Sympathy Orchestra and Chorus during a performance of 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky at Classic FM Live at London’s Royal Albert Hall
Pyrotechnics during the grand finale of the final performance lead by Stephen Barlow conducting the Bournemouth Sympathy Orchestra and Chorus during a performance of 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky at Classic FM Live at London’s Royal Albert Hall

A top Ukrainian official Oleksandr Tkachenko has urged the country’s allies to boycott Russian culture – and ban Russian composer Tchaikovsky from performances – until the “bloody invasion” comes to an end.

Mr Tkachenko said over 800 cases of destruction of Ukrainian culture, including destroyed museums, liquidated libraries and erasure of the word Ukraine, have been recorded by its ministry of culture and information policy since Russia’s invasion of its neighbour began on February 24.

In a piece for The Guardian, the culture minister said: “Boycotting Russian culture is an important step. We’re not talking about cancelling Tchaikovsky, but rather about pausing performances of his works until Russia ceases its bloody invasion.

“Ukrainian cultural venues have already done this with him and other Russian composers. We’re calling on our allies to do the same.

“Already, many of the theatres and cultural venues that previously refused to perform Russian music or to co-operate with Russian artists who support the war have since renewed their ties. And Ukrainian culture has so much to offer.

“Representatives of Ukrainian culture today consider it their mission to overcome the violence and destruction caused by Russia. Rejecting representatives of Russian culture who support its totalitarian regime and preventing concerts of Russian performers who openly support its war of aggression are conscious steps for a mature democratic society to take.

“Along with political and economic sanctions, they will be necessary if we are to defeat Russia’s totalitarian project.”

A number of shows and high profile events were cancelled in response to the escalating conflict in Ukraine, including the Royal Opera House axing a tour by the Moscow-based Bolshoi Ballet and performances by the Russian State Ballet company and Russian State Ballet Of Siberia.

MTV Europe Music Awards 2022 – Show – PSD Bank Dome
Kalush Orchestra perform on stage at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2022 (PA)

The Kremlin was also stripped of hosting the Champions League football final, which was moved to Paris, in May, while Formula One’s Russian Grand Prix, which was supposed to be held in September, was also cancelled.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian art and culture have become more prominent since the invasion, exemplified by folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra winning Eurovision 2022 with their track Stefania.

Mr Tkachenko said “we are rediscovering Ukrainian culture” through pain and tragedy.

He added: “Today, Ukrainian melodies and voices sound powerfully on the world’s most prestigious stages – be it the Royal Opera House in London, the Metropolitan Opera in New York or La Scala in Milan.

“Ukrainian opera singers are among the best in the world. Earlier this year, Liudmyla Monastyrska replaced the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, who withdrew from the Met Opera after refusing to denounce (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, in the main part of Turandot.

“Our composers have produced masterpieces and our writers should be no less esteemed than their Russian counterparts. Ukrainian literature has deep roots and is still actively developing. Our fine and decorative arts share their origins with Europe’s rich cultural history.”

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