Open letter to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,

I am aware of your countless daily obligations and the scale of the problems that you are constantly required to solve, yet I address this letter to you, the head of our state. Exceptional circumstances leave me no choice. As a man, musician and citizen, I am asking for your protection.

For more than a year, a tragic situation has been developing within the State Symphony Orchestra, which I have conducted for nearly 40 years. Some people continue to insist that this is entirely due to disagreement over financial and structural issues.

Recently, at the end of May, a detailed programme based on my suggestions was drawn up to solve the problems that had arisen. This programme was approved by the Minister of Culture.

For a long time, I was unable to find an explanation as to why the minister was obstructing the completion of a programme that he himself had approved, why he preferred to watch as “militants” (whether members of the orchestra or not) systematically dismantled the artistic team that represented part of our national heritage.

Only today, as I learn of my dismissal, do I finally understand what has happened. The position adopted some time ago by deputy minister V. V. Egorychev and the head of the arts department, V. S. Skotorienko (who decided to oust Svetlanov from the orchestra a long time ago), has been forcefully reaffirmed.

Unfortunately, the new Minister of Culture, M. E. Shvydkoi, has carried out this plan in a most “dignified” manner by ostentatiously hunting down the artist.

The public has wrongly been told that I was no longer performing in my own country. This is how, with great “panache”, a situation has been created in which I have been prevented from appearing in a concert hall in my country for over a year. Even at the Bolshoi, of which I am an honorary conductor, I see no prospect for artistic creation. What does this all mean? Evgeny Svetlanov is much in demand abroad yet is unemployed in Russia!

I would hope that I will not share the fate of my colleagues who have been forced to emigrate.

E. Svetlanov, April 17th 2000.