Russian Conductor Says He Was Fired After Criticizing Putin

Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 10:13 PM

Mikhail Arkadyev, the conductor of Vladivostok's Pacific Symphony Orchestra, said he was told that his contract would not be renewed because of his outspoken remarks about prime minister Vladimir Putin.

Arkadyev is a member of the Russian Union of Composers, a professional trade union that joined a new political movement set up by Putin to help lay the groundwork for the presidential election in March 2012.

The London Telegraph reports that Arkadyev wrote a scornful open letter of protest to union leadership after learning that the union had joined the “odious and baneful" front without consulting him or others.

"Not only does this violate my individual rights and elementary democratic procedures," he wrote, "but I do not in principle accept the political program and social role [of the front] created by Putin exclusively for the simulation and profanation of the democratic process in Russia."

The 53-year-old conductor later learned that his annual contract would not be renewed, according to a report in the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. "I was not told why, but I believe my refusal to have anything to do with the All-Russian People's Front [Putin's movement] played a part,” he said.

In news reports, Putin's spokesman denied the conductor's dismissal was linked to his remarks about the prime minister's new movement, claiming that Arkadyev had been told of his dismissal before the latest scandal erupted.

The All-Russia People’s Front is intended to shore up support for Putin’s party in the months leading up to the poll yet the recruitment process for the organization has been highly controversial. Bosses of state-run organizations such as Russian Railways have pledged to automatically sign up their employees to the pro-Putin movement without balloting them.

Putin is known for his ties to Russia's cultural elite including Mariinsky Theater director Valery Gergiev.

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Comments [5]

Bill from NJ

Shostakovich and Prokofiev both danced a very fine line in the Soviet Union, at times both of them found themselves denounced and pieces of theirs banned, and usually they ended up having to create something to molify Stalin and company to try and keep from worse things happening.

It is kind of ironic that the organization in question, the Union of Composers, is once again supporting a dictator, they were a direct instrument of Stalin in his day, and in a way Gergiev is much like his predecessor, Kabelevsky, in supporting the iron hand of the dictatorship.

Actually, it is amazing more didn't happen to Shostakovich and Prokofiev, many of their pieces contain direct jabs at the stupidity of the Soviet System and Stalin, that if the peasants running the government had a bit more brains would have gotten them into deep trouble. Shostakovich and Prokofiev were heroes, because they in their own way stood up to Stalin and the idiotic state that was the USSR, unlike suck ups like Kabelevsky who bought the whole peasant/marxist drivel, they struggled to write music they felt rather then to please the ideologues.

Jul. 16 2011 11:35 PM
Victor from West Orange, NJ

Not exactly. Shostakovich was limited in his work, but he wasn't imprisoned. For some time he had a problematic relationship with Stalin & Co. But Shostakovich, being a great composer, never been a hero. He just became a member of communist party in order to be able to work. he used to be ashamed of it, but work was more important for him. And he finally got recognition - just look at his awards (http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A8%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B0%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87,_%D0%94%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B9_%D0%94%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B5%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87). And quite recently, he got US recognition, partially due to Solomon Volkov efforts, who actually tried represent him as a hero. Most heroic event in Shostkkovich's life was Quartet #8. Initially he dedicated it to himself (!!!), but he was told not to do that. Then he dedicated #8 to the 'victims of fascism'... meaning that he is the victim.

Jul. 13 2011 12:30 AM
Banjo

Isn't this what happened to Shostakovich?

Jul. 12 2011 11:40 PM
Victor from West Orange, NJ

No doubt he would disappear. The same way as disappeared Dr. Kevorkian, whose sister was fired for being a sister.

Jul. 12 2011 10:23 PM
Michael Meltzer

Things have actually improved quite a bit. In the old days, he just would have disappeared.

Jul. 12 2011 05:20 AM

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