Journalists, Our Movement Needs Your Powerful Word!

Dear Canadian and American Journalists,

I am Anna Filonenko, a Chicagoland resident, a member of Ukrainian community and your former colleague, writing to you to bring you attention to a hypocritical and dangerous event about to happen in your countries in March. The La Maison Symphonique in Montreal, Canada, The Metropolitan Opera House and David Geffen Hall in New York, USA, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, USA have invited Valeriy Gergiev to perform on their stages, underestimating the true mission of this Russian propagandist. Gerviev, along with other leading 510 Russian cultural figures, signatories of the notorious letter in support of Putin’s anti-Ukrainian politics, uses his talent and glory to whitewash Kremlin’s crimes: wars in Ukraine and Syria, annexation of Crimea, parts of Moldova and Georgia, violent riots on European streets, election meddling in the USA…you name them, it’s a long list. But despite the intensity and degree of Putin’s crimes, his authority and power remains solid in the eyes of the general public. The Kremlin spends tons of money, hundreds of millions dollars on Big propaganda, Russian famous “The Firehose of Falsehood”. Gergiev is one of Putin’s soldiers of spreading misinformation about true deeds of the Russian Federation. 

I am from the industrial region of Ukraine. I was born in one day, year and city with the current Ukrainian President Zelensky. I spent my school years in a small town of coal miners near Donbas, and graduated from Dnipropetrovsk National University with a Journalism degree, where I was taught the power and appreciation of the Word and to become Ukrainian. Yes, after spending my childhood under a strong prorussian Donbass influence, only in my 20s I first realized my country’s and own true identity, culture, and history. That’s what Ukrainians, Belorussians, Estonians… other post-Soviet people feel and urge to educate neighbors, colleagues, friends about the falsehood Russia is soooo excellent at. 

Are we heard? Chicago journalist Howard Reich wrote in his memoirs “Prisoner of Her Past”: “The World could not bear to hear their stories, society at large making it clear to survivors that they simply get on with their lives” about the tragedy of the Eastern European Jews. Mr. Reich was so right, pointing at this defensive mechanism our suppressed and unheard minds do and it can be applied to all survivors of Totalitarian regimes. I’ve run away and can observe “Donbas” from a safe distance now, in Loznitsa’s movie, for instance. I’ve run away, but cannot simply get on with my life, watching how Russia spreads its influence across the ocean, under Gergiev’s cover, for instance. I am an American with a Ukrainian heritage, a living witness of what Russia truly does if it gets a silent permission to. The New York Times did a great job describing how The Kremlin incorporates Russian cultural figures into propaganda, into the Cold War II against Western Society and Democratic values.

The New York Times: Oligarchs, as U.S. Arts Patrons, Present a Softer Image of Russia

The New York Times: Has a U.S. College Given Russia Too Friendly a Platform?

“The smear job on Chrystia Freeland is only the start. Canada is a logical next target in Moscow’s clandestine war”- said a Canadian journalist Scott Gilmore about his country’s potential threat.

It is incomprehensible that The La Maison Symphonique, The Metropolitan Opera House and  New York Philharmonic David Geffen Hall, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra have invited such a notorious person to the Canadian and American land, the land of Freedom and Democracy. Arts Against Aggression movement followers and concerned citizens asked those venues to cancel Gergiev’s concerts, to stop his hypocritical performances and Orchestras’ shameful involvement. Those concerts in March will stain our true cultural treasures’ reputation heavily. I hope the iconic venues value their names and would do everything to prevent this mistake from happening. I hope this matter gets your, Journalists, attention. Our movement needs your powerful Word.

Thanks in advance,

Anna Filonenko 

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