By Yoselina Guevara – Mar 11, 2022
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and, endowed as they are with reason and conscience, should behave towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
-Universal Declaration of Human Rights
It is unacceptable for countries that claim to be civilized or that call themselves developed to discriminate against someone just because they are Russian, whether by birth or naturalization, and suddenly single them out publicly as an enemy. Hundreds of transnational communication entities have been aiming their heaviest artillery to generate a Russophobia that, with the technological capabilities we have today, is spreading like a pandemic throughout the world.
Giuseppe Sala, mayor of Milan, Italy, a post he was elected to by a center-left coalition, after threatening and demanding the eminent conductor Valery Gergiev to publicly distance himself from his friend Vladimir Putin, dismissed the conductor from the orchestra of the Scala Theater of Milan. This came with the ignominious addition that he will not be able to conduct for an indefinite period of time in that musical precinct; an absurd decision that punishes this great artist as if he were a war criminal. Incidentally, the Scala of Milan keeps its doors open to so-called guests of honor; those who have amassed great fortunes thanks to the bombings in Syria, Libya and Palestine. This is never commented on, but rather it is covered up with expensive coats and exuberant jewels.
If there is one thing to be clear about, it is that artists have the right to not give in to threats and constrictions, as did Anna Netrebko, a soprano of the highest level, who suffered the same fate as Gergiev for refusing to renounce Russia, her native country. In Greece, the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni decided to cancel the live broadcast at a concert hall in Athens of the ballet Swan Lake, being performed at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, and to suspend cooperation with Russian cultural organizations. The next step will probably be to ban worldwide the music of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Kachaturian, etc., just because they are Russian.
This has happened not only in the world of culture, but also sport, as FIFA and UEFA decreed the expulsion of Russia and the Olympic Committee excluded a priori Russian and Belarusian citizens, unless they take off the uniform that accredits them as representatives of their countries, forcing them to compete as stateless or neutral. But what is more absurd is that this discrimination reaches even academic institutions, a place where dissent is one of the engines of thought. Researchers who had written scientific articles months ago now see their contributions rejected by academic journals, not for reasons of merit, but simply because they are of Russian nationality.
These are only the cases that we know about due to the notoriety of the protagonists, but hundreds of Russians are now suffering such discrimination, especially in Europe, where there are numerous cafes, hotels, and tourist sites where there are now signs with “no Russians allowed” written on them, in the best of cases, when they are not loaded with vulgar epithets.
Involving art, sports, science and research in war conflicts is not a wise choice. It is a step backwards for centuries to close these spaces that should be open to dialogue, encounter and peace. There is no need to turn theaters, stadiums, and universities into trenches. A Russian writer should be able to participate in a festival, a dancer should be able to perform, a footballer or a gymnast should be able to play. The pandemic should have made us more human, more sensitive because we felt infinitely vulnerable and unprotected. But it seems that the only thing it trained us in was discrimination and segregation.
Featured image: Cat shaking out of fear from Uncle Sam’s stick of sanctions. Illustration: Chen Xia/GT
Venezuelan professor. Correspondent for Correo del Alba Magazine in Europe. Her articles have been published in Spanish, Italian and English by different news outlets in Europe (Rebelión, Ideología Socialista, Libya 360, etc) as well as in Latin America (Cubadebate, Redh-Cuba, Redh-Argentina, Portal Alba, Transformar Argentina, Resumen latinoamericano in English, Orinoco Tribune, Quinto Poder Argentina, etc).
Yoselina Guevara#molongui-disabled-linkSeptember 8, 2022