|Scene from the controversial production.|
The most recent fuel to fire my disillusionment with post-Soviet Russia is this whole drama involving Novosibirsk theatre director, Boris Mezdrich, who has now just been fired by the Russian Culture Minister for producing a blasphemous rendition of Wagner's Tannhauser opera.
The announcement that Boris Mezdrich had been sacked was made on Sunday as several thousand people rallied outside the Novosibirsk theatre to protest against the opera, which they said was offensive to Christians and reflected the values of the decadent west.Let's take a step back and remember that this all started when a Russian Orthodox cleric filed a complaint with the courts because the opera breached the rights of believes to not be offended! He never bothered to watch the opera himself, of course.
“I wrote (to prosecutors) that Tannhauser breaches the rights of believers ... Believers are offended, so to say,” Tikhon said at a news conference this month.This is all part of an insane law in Russia -- brought in by Putin and the Orthodox Church -- stating that it was illegal to upset anyone's (read: Orthodox Russian Church) religious sensibilities.
Then, surprising to me, the Russian court threw out the case!
Well, in Russia, when the courts of law don't work, the government steps in and does what the church wants. The Minister of Culture decided to investigate the opera.
"We are not encroaching on the freedom of creativity; we certainly believe in the most daring possible interpretations of theatrical classics and experimental scenes," the Culture Ministry said in a statement. "However, the [theater] should not only warn their viewers about unusual treatments of classic works. They should also try to explain the authors' concept and what will occur during the production so as to show respect for all types of audience members."Oh no! We would never think to limit anyone's freedom of creativity! We just want them to be careful about what they say and to ensure that proper respect is paid to absolutely everyone, lest any feelings get hurt -- especially Orthodox Christians.
This brings us back to yesterday, when Mezdrich was fired.
The Russian Orthodox church has played an active part in Putin’s efforts to consolidate Russian society by appealing to what are described as traditional Russian values as opposed to western liberalism.Naturally, art should never challenge traditional values or promote liberalism. Only inoffensive, state-approved, conservative art for 21st century Russia. With that, they can march boldly back to the days of Nikita Khrushchev -- Putin's muse.
I said it once, I'll say it again: http://end-blasphemy-laws.org/