Russian? Guilty by association

If anybody needs any proof that things aren’t as Western governments and the so-called corporate (mainstream) media tell us, here’s another one: His Excellency, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Czech Republic Yevhen Perebyinis, sent an open letter to the organisers of the prestigious Karlovy Vary International Film Festival protesting that a Russian film, Captain Volkonogov Escaped, be shown there as part of competition.

In a typical authoritarian tone, the envoy wrote that the film was made with support from Russian government and that its creators used to make Russian propaganda movies.

So far as His Excellency is concerned, including that film in the festival’s schedule goes against all descriptions of humanity.

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival was born the same year the International Film Festival in the French resort Cannes (1946), and it has gained and maintained a solid reputation throughout its existence, communist edicts, bans and regulations notwithstanding.

One of its rules: nobody is allowed to bring in (and promote) anything supporting any political organisations and movements.

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival replied in style, and in an open letter, too. Signed by Jiří Bartoška, president, Kryštof Mucha, executive director, and Karel Och, artistic director, their letter recounted Czech Republic’s official efforts to help Ukraine in her war with Russia, and went on to say (verbatim quote): “Captain Volkonogov Escaped is one of the most remarkable films from the last year’s edition of Venice Film Festival, which is why it was invited to the KVIFF´s program already during autumn. Although the film is set in 1938, quite obvious parallels with the current situation can be found in its story. We believe that the film provides a fitting description of how the manipulative actions of a despotic leader can influence the mindset of the majority of the society, purposefully create enemies of the regime in the name of ideology and ruthlessly annihilate them, and how such actions ultimately lead to a national tragedy. In this sense, we see the film Captain Volkonogov Escaped as an indirect, but very distinct criticism of the current Russian state regime.”

As an aside: the Venice Film Festival is the oldest such event in history, first held in 1932. Together with the Cannes Festival, and the Berlin International Film Festival (active since 1951), it’s one of the most prestigious such festivals in the world. The one in Karlovy Vary is in the same league. The one in Karlovy Vary has a special distinction the other three do not share: it is the place where I met my then-future (and still today) wife. End of an aside.

The Karlovy Vary leaders’ letter concludes thus: “We understand your arguments, however, we strictly refuse your interpretation that the screening of this film, which was in the past supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, distracts the international community from the war crimes committed in Ukraine. On the contrary, we believe that by screening the film, we can generate a public discussion which will draw attention to the overlap of the film’s main theme with current events.”

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival receives part of its support from the Czech government. It remains to be seen whether the government would be pressuring its organisers to give in to the Ukrainian emotional blackmail.

Precedent?

New York’s Metropolitan Opera basically fired one of the greatest sopranos of our era, Russian Anna Netrebko.

Here, verbatim, the opening paragraph from the Met, March 3, 2022: Not complying with the Met’s condition that she repudiate her public support for Vladimir Putin while he wages war on Ukraine, soprano Anna Netrebko has withdrawn from her upcoming Met performances in Puccini’s Turandot this April and May, as well as the run of Verdi’s Don Carlo next season. “It is a great artistic loss for the Met and for opera,” said Met General Manager Peter Gelb. “Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward.”

Whether the irony was intended or not, Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska replaced Netrebko in the Turandot performances still remaining on the Met schedule.

Netrebko shot back: she told the French newspaper, Le Monde, that she was not guilty of anything and revealed that Peter Gelb went against the terms of her withdrawal from Turandot.

Netrebko told Le Monde, “The Met was the first to insist that I clarify my position. What I have done. But I was also asked to declare myself against Vladimir Putin.

“I replied that I had a Russian passport, that he was still the president.

“I could not utter these words publicly. So I refused.”

She added that they had agreed to the terms but that she was shocked when Gelb suggested to the New York Times that she would never return. Netrebko added, “It’s very hard because nothing foreshadowed this attitude. We had agreed to let some time pass, which we would see later… We cannot denounce all of my future contracts just because they judge that I am too close to Putin.”

According to Le Monde, all of Netrebko’s contracts are in question through May 2026.

Game, set, match

If all (or any) of the above reminds you of the attitude taken by the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, yes, the one located in the London suburb named Wimbledon, you’re right.

The venerable Championship (as it is called in tennis circles, and nobody need add any other description), the organisers announced earlier this spring that they would not allow any Russian or Belarussian players to compete. The reaction from ATP (Association of Player Professionals) and WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) was swift: if you mean it, not a single point gained by players at the Championship would be included in the regular player rankings. This IS important: ranking standings are used to seed players in forthcoming tournaments, and it is also based on these rankings that the schedules are set up (and sponsors attracted).

The Championship takes place between July 1 and 9 this year, and, if internal sources can be trusted, ticket sales have been much slower than usual. Bluntly: most of the tickets to all of the 18 courts haven’t been sold yet. Even the fact that, there is no Court 13 (triskaidekaphobia or what?) on the premises has helped.

In fact, even the most popular and best-known Centre Court and Court No. 1 still have rows after rows of seats still vacant.

Does all this tell you all you need to know about the Western hypocrisy? It should.

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