Russian Conductor Says He Was Fired After Criticizing Putin

Email a Friend

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.