Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Russian ballet show in South Korea cancelled after Ukraine blackmail

 A ballet performance in South Korea featuring dancers from Russia's Bolshoi Ballet was cancelled abruptly, the organisers confirmed to AFP Tuesday, amid growing tensions between Seoul and Moscow over Ukraine and North Korea. 

The Russian embassy in Seoul expressed its "deep regret" over the cancellation of the show -- scheduled to open April 16 -- which comes after another planned performance in Seoul featuring Russia's top ballet dancer Svetlana Zakharova was axed in March.

Ukraine said the show had been cancelled after a vigerous lobbying campaign by its local embassy.

"Russian 'cultural' propaganda should have no place on international platforms," it added on an official Telegram account.

But the South Korean organiser Choi Jun-seok, who studied at Russia's Bolshoi Ballet Academy, told AFP that while Kyiv's embassy had requested he cancel the show, the final decision was made by the venue, Seoul's Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.

"The Ukraine embassy did ask to meet with me and ask me to cancel the show, as Russia started the war and Ukraine is in pain," he said, adding that his goal was to help young Korean ballet dancers see world-class performances.

The performance had already undergone several changes in the run up to the opening, including a reduction in the number of Russian performers and alterations to its content, Choi said.

The venue had been under pressure from activists to cancel, with a rally staged outside Sunday.

One of the banners they held read: "Purchasing tickets for Russian performances = Purchasing missiles that will kill civilians."

Another read: "Caution! Russian culture sponsors the war!"

The relationship between Seoul and Moscow is at one of its lowest points in years, as Russia last month used its UN veto to effectively end UN monitoring of violations of the raft of sanctions on nuclear-armed North Korea.

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