Germany: Controversy follows after Munich Orchestra conductor fired for close relations with Putin

Valery Gergiev has been fired from the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra over his past support for Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
By Lucie Ctverakova
3 Min Read

The dismissal of Valery Gergiev, the chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, due to his alleged closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin has sparked criticism across some sections of the German commentariat.

Commenting on the news, former Federal Minister for Family Affairs Kristina Schröder (CDU) tweeted: “And now we’re exaggerating again. I can understand this in political posts. I find such attitude tests silly and counterproductive.”

Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Putin, Munich philharmonic
The chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, Valery Gergiev. (Münchner Philharmoniker/Facebook)

According to her, there was no justification for such a position. “He is being fired, and I am not aware that he has not met professional requirements,” she added.

She swiftly rowed back somewhat on her criticism, after receiving reports that Gergiev had “actively created propaganda for Russia’s war activities in the past.”

Gergiev, a longstanding supporter of Putin’s aggressive foreign policy, was reportedly offered the opportunity to toe the Western line and denounce the action taken by the Russian president, according to the Junge Freiheit newspaper. However, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter announced on Monday morning that the world-renowned conductor had allowed the ultimatum to distance himself from Putin to expire.

The conductor’s previous comments in favor of the Russian annexation of Crimea portray a consistent tendency of Gergiev to offer support to Putin.

The Vienna, Rotterdam and Munich philharmonic orchestras, in addition to the Verbier and Edinburgh Festivals, have all severed ties with Gergiev, however some have spoken out about perceived double standards of German politicians supporting his professional exile.

“Is it known whether [Munich mayor] Reiter has already initiated expulsion proceedings against his fellow party member Gerhard Schröder?” questioned director and screenwriter, Thomas Hügel, hinting to the former chancellor and SPD politician’s close ties to Russia.

On Twitter, AfD Member of Parliament Stephan Brandner also asked what would happen to Gerhard Schröder, as a debate was sparked between those who remain critical of the decision to dismiss the conductor, and others who condemned the fact that the dismissal had taken place too late.

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