Members of the Ukrainian Association of South Africa staged a peaceful protest on Wednesday outside the Artscape theater in Cape Town where the ballet danced Swan Lake. It is staged, ostensibly by the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre.
The League condemned South Africa’s cultural cooperation with Russia amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
I have a small child and I’m afraid to go home,” said Olga Shmaydenko, a Ukrainian photographer who took part in the protest. [to Ukraine] Because bombing happens everywhere, so you don’t know where you’re going to hit.”
In a two-page statement, the Ukrainian Federation of South Africa called on South African arts and cultural institutions to unequivocally condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The association appealed to writers, artists, musicians, and other prominent personalities to sever all ties with Russian artists until the withdrawal of Russian military forces from Ukraine, the return of Ukrainian borders, and full compensation for human losses and infrastructure damage.
For 500 days now, Russia has been using military aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine, threatening the world with a nuclear attack, increasing hunger and poverty on the African continent, all of which violate the UN Charter and human rights, nuclear safety, and any moral and ethical standards,” the association said.
The association says that supporting ballet companies registered in Russia during the continuation of Russian aggression is tantamount to contributing financially to the daily bombing of Ukrainian civilians. Moreover, supporting Russian ballet dancers who remain silent about military aggression is seen as endorsing the torture, rape and execution of scores of Ukrainian civilians.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Former President of the Russian Memorial, 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, talks about the facts behind the war on Ukraine
Despite the ballet’s reported opposition to the war during its 2022 European tour in Belgium, the Ukrainian Society insists that the St. Petersburg Ballet Theater has a long history of cooperating with the Russian government and military.
While the performance is being presented as a product of an Australian-based company, the association alleged that the cast and letters remained the same as those of the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, with well-known performers Irina Kolesnikova and Margarita Avdeeva from the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre.
During the company’s Belgian tour, Irina FerrisThe director of the company said: “We tried to prove that we are indeed against the war, but to no avail. We need to make it clear to the European public that not all Russians are fascist monsters.
However, the Ukrainian Association of South Africa maintains that the St. Petersburg Ballet Theater remains a company registered in Russia, pays taxes to the Russian government and has not yet condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine or the killing of Ukrainian civilians.
More than 60 Ukrainian dancers and ballet artists perished in the war, among them ballet soloist Oleksandr Shapoval of the National Opera of Ukraine.
said protest organizer Katerina Aloshina Daily MaverickMy parents are still there too [in Ukraine]. They’re fighting back because they’ve lived there all their lives, worked there, paid taxes, and they’re not going to leave because some crazy person decided to bomb our country.”
The association reminded South Africans of Ukraine’s support for the cultural boycott of South Africa during the days of apartheid. She emphasized that Ukraine granted asylum to hundreds of South African freedom fighters in the 1960s, and played a crucial role as chair and vice-chair of the UN Committee against Apartheid.
Ukraine supported South Africa by cutting off all cooperation with its artists during the apartheid period. “We now also demand that all cultural collaborations with Russian artists be stopped until the war ends,” said Marta Kohrenko, one of the demonstrators.
Daily Maverick Artsscape Theater was asked for comment, but did not receive a response by the stated deadline.
The production will move to the Teatro in Montecasino, Johannesburg, from Wednesday, July 26, and further protests are expected there. DM