Baryshnikov: Don’t Let Russian Culture to Become Collateral Damage

One of the greatest Soviet-born ballet dancers, Mikhail Baryshnikov, has made a plea for the world to not punish Russian performers, artists, and athletes for Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

Baryshnikov is the leading male classical dancer of the 1970s and 1980s. He said that heavy sanctions on artists and sports stars mean that culture is paying the price for Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

This month, conductor Valery Gergiev, and opera singer Anna Netrebko, were among those who lost prestigious work in western countries because of their ties to the Russian regime. 

Baryshnikov said that an open exchange in the arts and in culture is always a good thing and that it is not right to put the weight of a country’s political decisions onto the backs of artists, athletes, and others. 

He called for Daniil Medvedev to be able to play Wimbledon. 

This comes a week after British sports minister Nigel Huddleston said that the government will need assurances that any athlete or sportsperson entering the UK is not a supporter of Putin. 

Baryshnikov also said that he fears that Russia will soon many any positive future completely impossible for the young generations. 

The famous ballet dancer is now 74 and defected from the USSR to Canada in 1974. He wants to improve the global understanding of Russia. 

Baryshnikov has joined other prominent artists who are also critical of the Kremlin to set up True Russia, a GoFundMe campaign whose purpose is to spread a better understanding of Russian culture and raise money to help refugees who are fleeing the country. Other famous cultural icons involved in the campaign include writer Boris Akunin and economist Sergei Guriev. 

Baryshnikov called upon well-known Russian artists to make a choice whether to speak out or not and said that for him, it is clear who is responsible for the war, madness, and cruelty. He said that arts becoming collateral damage is not the best way forward.

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