MOFA defends cancellation of soprano’s Taipei show following Russian office criticism

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) defended on Saturday the National Symphony Orchestra's (NSO) decision to cancel a concert by Russian-born opera star Anna Netrebko, a day after the Russian representative office criticized the move as being "politicized."

Netrebko had been scheduled to perform on March 5 at the National Concert Hall in Taipei, but the show was canceled by the NSO on Tuesday amid criticism of the soprano's reported ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and her position on the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The NSO said the cancellation was made due to "security reasons" in light of concerns raised by the public over the show, in which Netrebko was to perform with her husband and tenor Yusif Eyvazov.

Russia's representative office in Taipei (The Representative Office in Taipei for the Moscow-Taipei Coordination Commission on Economic and Cultural Cooperation) expressed "regret" on Friday over the matter, which it described as having been "politicized."

The office, which represents Moscow's interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries, criticized "competent authorities and individuals" for their "indulgence of a climate of hatred and intolerance" while condemning what it called discrimination against people based on their ethnicity.

In response, the MOFA issued a press statement on Saturday, saying the office's comments reflected its "negligence" of the fact that mainstream Taiwanese society had disapproved of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The statement said MOFA respected the NSO's decision to call off the show and supported the Ministry of Culture's pledges to establish a mechanism to prevent similar situations in the future.

In the statement, MOFA reiterated its condemnation of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and support for the Ukrainian people in their fight for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Netrebko, who also holds Austrian citizenship, had faced boycotts in several Western countries over her reported ties with Putin, in the wake of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The 51-year-old opera star was able to resume some of her shows in Europe, including in Italy and Austria, after she released a statement last March to "condemn the war on Ukraine" and denied having close ties to Putin.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel