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Blacklisted director jabs Kremlin over Soviet author’s tribute

Award-winning Latvian stage director Alvis Hermanis responded with a scathing statement of his own Thursday to reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin praised his adaptation of Shukshin’s Tales, a blockbuster Moscow production, fragments of which were part of a memorial tribute to the Soviet-era writer and filmmaker Vasily Shukshin that the Russian leader attended Tuesday at the Moscow Theatre of Nations.

As reported, upon news of his being blacklisted by Russian authorities following Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics’ earlier moves blocking a trio of entertainers in close support of Putin’s aggressive foreign policy and military intimidation, Hermanis insisted that Russian authorities close down his successful show in Moscow to be consistent with the spirit of his entry-ban into the great neighboring country toward whose culture and people he vows a deep reverence and respect.

“On November 4 Putin not only attended my adaptation of Shukshin’s Tales, but immediately afterwards behaved inappropriately in public: climbed onto the stage and made a propaganda speech, trying to make into his ideological comrade Vasily Shukshin, long gone into the afterlife, therefore denied the chance to object to such a manipulation,” said Hermanis.

Recalling Shukshin’s biography, he stressed his doubt “whether the writer would have become an ally of Putin’s, had he lived to see today’s events.”

“To start with, his (Shukshin’s) father was arrested and then shot by the Cheka (KGB) in 1933. His literary works, as far as contemporary censure permitted, exude a negative attitude toward Soviet power,” Hermanis explains further.

“Shukshin embodies the best of the Russian personality – intelligence of the heart, emotional wisdom and a sense of humor. I will never believe that he would support and join the soviet-style lumpen-psychodelia dominating Russian society today and which Putin is trying to package as a rebirth of Russian spiritualism.

“Lately Putin’s ideologists have been trying to make allies of other long-dead classics of Russian culture,” he went on to say. “No one in the world would deny the grand history of Russian culture, but these long-deceased people have nothing to do with Putin’s anti-Russian ideology.”

“The fact that the Russian president attends a theatre production by a director who has just been blacklisted the month before, of course proves only that the left hand knows not what the right hand is doing. It testifies to demented behavior dangerous precisely because it is no longer logical,” he concluded.

“Like a defective toy whose movements are no longer predictable,” he warned.

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