Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa performs live on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 19, 2012.

Andrew Cowie

Moscow's diplomatic mission in Canada is thumbing its nose at a decision by a Toronto cultural institution to drop a controversial pianist over her critical remarks about Ukrainians and the government in Kiev.

The Russian embassy says it will host a recital by Ukrainian-born Valentina Lisitsa this Tuesday – an event that it insists is "strictly non-political" despite the debate that has been swirling around the musician for months.

The invitation-only event, on the embassy grounds, takes place about two months after the outspoken Ms. Lisitsa, an ethnic Russian, was dropped from Toronto Symphony Orchestra concerts for comments she posted on her Twitter account that were critical of the current Ukrainian government.

Story continues below advertisement

Canada and Russia have suspended all but low-level diplomatic contacts after Moscow's seizure of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and throughout a civil war in eastern Ukraine that the West insists is backed by President Vladimir Putin.

Ms. Lisitsa's performance in Ottawa will commemorate the 175th anniversary of the birth of Tchaikovsky, as well as other famous Russian composers such as Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Prokofiev, Moscow's diplomatic mission says.

Paul Grod, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said Monday that Ms. Lisitsa creates "ethnic division" with her statements.

"There's a fine line between free speech and hate speech and she's crossed it."

He said Ms. Lisitsa has made deeply offensive comments against Ukrainians, Jews, Poles, members of visible minorities and people with disabilities on her Twitter feed.

Mr. Grod said the pianist's social-media activity has included references to Ukrainians as ukropy, a derogatory ethnic slur, and as "dog feces and Nazis," and "she makes false and spurious allegations that Ukrainians are setting up filtration camps and preparing gas chambers for Russians."

He said Russia is exploiting Ms. Lisitsa for its own ends by hosting her performance. "They've recognized she's a useful tool in their propaganda to discredit the Ukrainian government and to create further tensions between Russians and Ukrainians," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

The Russian embassy was an outspoken critic of the TSO's decision to cancel Ms. Lisitsa's performances and it took to Twitter to voice its displeasure, inserting the phrase "let Valentina play" in its messages.

"It was very unfortunate, unworthy and outrageous that the TSO dropped her performance," embassy spokesman Kirill Kalinin said Monday.

"This is reminiscent of witch-hunting by [U.S.] Senator [Joseph] McCarthy and the lustration that is being carried out by the party of war in Kiev. It's not appropriate to mix politics and art. She is a very talented pianist and Torontonians missed out on the opportunity to listen to the wonderful Rachmaninoff's piano concerto No. 2."

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies