Too Close to Putin？ Institutions Vet Artists, Uncomfortably. 美國機構切割親普亭的俄裔藝術家
文/Javier C. Hernández
In Canada, an acclaimed 20-year-old Russian pianist's concert was canceled amid concerns about his silence on the invasion of Ukraine. The music director of an orchestra in Toulouse, France — who is also chief conductor at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow — was instructed to clarify his position on the war before his next appearance. In New York, Anna Netrebko, one of opera's biggest stars, saw her reign at the Metropolitan Opera end after she declined to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As global condemnation of Russia's attack on Ukraine grows, cultural institutions have moved with surprising speed to put pressure on Russian artists to distance themselves from Putin, a collision of art and politics that is forcing organizations to confront questions about free speech and whether they should be policing artists' views.
Institutions are demanding that artists who have supported Putin in the past issue clear condemnations of him and his invasion as a prerequisite for performing. Others are checking their rosters and poring over social media posts to ensure Russian performers have not made contentious statements about the war. The Polish National Opera has gone so far as to drop a production of Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov," one of the greatest Russian operas, to express "solidarity with the people of Ukraine."
The tensions pose a dilemma for cultural institutions and those who support them. Many have long tried to stay above the fray of current events, and have a deep belief in the role the arts can play in bridging divides. Now, arts administrators, who have scant geopolitical expertise, find themselves in the midst of one of the most politically charged issues in recent decades, with little in the way of experience to draw on.
"We're facing a totally new situation," said Andreas Homoki, artistic director of the Zurich Opera. "Politics was never on our mind like this before."
Experts warn that the pressure to take a tough stance against Russian artists risks ending decades of cultural exchange.
"The more we antagonize, the more we cut off, the more we ban, the more we censor and the more we have this xenophobic reaction, the more we play into Putin's hands," said Simon Morrison, a professor of music at Princeton who studies Russia. "We render each side into a crude cartoon."
As Refugees Pour In, Moldovans Fear They Also May Need to Flee 摩爾多瓦歡迎烏克蘭難民 也有人準備逃難
Across Moldova, a small, poor post-Soviet democracy next to Ukraine's southwestern border, Moldovans are watching Russia's advance on nearby Odesa — and packing their bags, just in case. The war has already profoundly affected Moldova: Per capita, it has welcomed more Ukrainian refugees than any other country, and many ordinary Moldovans have housed refugees in their apartments. Now, some Moldovans are wondering if and when they should join a westward exodus that is already Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since the end of World War II.
Russia has said nothing about invading Moldova, and Belarus, its close ally, has retracted a map, shown in a briefing last week by the Belarusian president, that was marked with arrows suggesting a planned Russian advance into Moldova.
But the events of the past month in Ukraine, coupled with the weak state of the Moldovan military and the country's turbulent history, have persuaded some Moldovans that anything is possible, and that it is just common sense to be considering an exit strategy.
A Russian regiment is already stationed on Moldovan soil, in the breakaway, Russian-backed territory of Transnistria, where secessionists took control after a war in 1992. Moldova is closer to the Ukrainian front lines than any other country not itself involved in the war. And Moldova has a long history of being dominated by foreign powers, including the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.
While the Moldovan government and foreign diplomats say there is currently no evidence of Transnistria getting dragged into the war, the mood here is fraught.
European ambassadors felt obliged Tuesday to release a video proving that they were still in Moldova, amid rumors that they had left en masse.
Government records suggest that there has been only a small rise in the net number of Moldovans who have left the country since the start of the war. More than 62,000 Moldovans left between Feb. 24, the first day of the Russian invasion, and Monday, about 22,000 more than during the same period last year. But the number of Moldovans returning to Moldova has also risen, by 17,000, according to data supplied by the Moldovan interior ministry.