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The Transition Elite Attended The Concert Of Anna Netrebko – Putin’s Soprano

On Tuesday, the Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko performed in Ljubljana. Since last February, the world-famous soprano has been denying accusations that she is a supporter of the Kremlin regime and, what is more, that she is even promoting illegal aggression against Ukraine. Because she refuses to publicly condemn Russia’s aggression, many opera houses in the past year and a half have refused to allow her to perform, one of them being the Metropolitan Opera in New York. However, she has not been denied hospitality at the Cankar Congress Hall, nor at the Ljubljana Festival, where she has become a regular guest. Her performance on Tuesday was also validated by the presence of the cream of the Slovenian transitional left, headed by President of the Republic Nataša Pirc Musar and lawyer Peter Čeferin.

Anna Netrebko has tried to justify her stance in the past. For example, the national media outlet’s web portal MMC quoted her explanation from an interview with Die Zeit on why she cannot speak out against her President: “No one in Russia can do that. Putin is still the President of Russia. I am still a Russian citizen, so it is not possible to do something like that. Do you understand? That is why I refused to make such a statement … Which I did. But I was also asked to speak out against Vladimir Putin. I replied that I had a Russian passport, that he was still the President and that I could not say those words in public. So, I refused.”

We also reported on Netrebko’s performance, which was a first-class scandal, last year. At that time, the Ukrainian Community of Slovenia addressed a petition to the Ljubljana Festival, calling on the organisers to cancel her performance. The petition deemed the performances of artists who directly support the Kremlin regime unacceptable. “Culture is the most powerful weapon in the war against Russia. For centuries, Russia has used culture to cover up its imperialist crimes. And as long as Russia is systematically committing genocide against the Ukrainian people and their culture, targeting children’s health centres, maternity hospitals, universities, schools, museums, churches and libraries with its rockets, any cooperation with those who support war crimes is unacceptable,” they wrote.

Anna Netrebko has tried to present herself in the West as a mere artist, who is not connected with the Kremlin regime. However, the exact opposite is true. For example, in 2012, she said that she could only wish that she would be Putin’s mistress, as he has such “strong, masculine energy”. Despite claiming that she is not politically active and is not a member of any party, she is known to have supported Putin’s presidential candidacy in 2012, the media outlet Deutsche Welle reports.

But the public statements and attempts to rehabilitate her singing career with rare statements condemning the war, but not the leader who started it, notwithstanding, the photos that have resurfaced online leave no doubt about her intimate convictions.

In the said photos, we can see the following: when Russia occupied Crimea in 2014, Netrebko travelled to a separatist area in eastern Ukraine and took a photo with the pro-Russian separatist leader Oleg Tsaryov, carrying the flag of “New Russia”.

And perhaps an even more reprehensible photo shows the opera singer wearing St George’s medal, the emblem of modern Russian militarism. Her white T-shirt reads: “To Berlin”. The slogan was popular among Russian soldiers at the beginning of the war in Ukraine and was seen on many of the armoured vehicles and missiles that were subsequently launched into Ukraine. It lost popularity in the wake of a series of military defeats by the Russian army last year.

A concert for the transition elite

The concert of the Russian singer, who is a permanent resident of Austria and also has Austrian citizenship, also featured the most recognisable faces of the transition elite of Slovenia. The concert was attended by the President of the country, Nataša Pirc Musar, who, like the Russian soprano, was not willing to publicly assign blame for the invasion of Ukraine during her presidential campaign. Just like her biggest supporter, Milan Kučan, she, too, argues that the war is not the fault of the one who started the aggression, but that the blame is shared.

Lawyer Peter Čeferin‘s views on the war in Ukraine are also reflected in his signature of support for a public call for European leaders to refrain from further military aid to Ukraine. According to the authors of the letter, the West should force Ukraine to negotiate with Russia as soon as possible. It could, of course, only negotiate by handing over parts of its territory to the occupier. The original signatory to the letter was none other than Milan Kučan.

We have sent the following press question to the President of the country in view of her attendance at the concert: The Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko has not yet unequivocally condemned the Russian aggression against Ukraine and has also not condemned the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is responsible for the war. Moreover, she has met him in the past and has been photographed with Russian militarist insignia and separatist leaders. How do you explain your attendance at a concert by an opera singer who, among other things, was refused hospitality by the Metropolitan Opera in New York precisely because of her ambiguous attitude towards the war?

Gal Kovač

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