Russia’s Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky, has a very disapproving stance on proposals to reciprocate a decision by Ukrainian authorities to ban entry to the country to fourteen renowned Russian arts professionals with a similar step banning entry to certain Ukrainian entertainers to Russia, the ministry’s press service said on Monday.
Specifically, proposals were made earlier to issue a persona non grata status to the Ukrainian comedy actor Vladimir Zelensky, who triggered a scandal at the beginning of September when a recording of his “frontline concert” in front of a crowd of Ukrainian military involved in the highly controversial “anti-terrorist operation” in the country’s eastern regions was uploaded in the Internet.
The recording that was made presumably near the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region at the end of August showed Zelensky making a bow to his audiences and thanking them for their efforts to defend Ukraine “against the scum of all sorts.” The Russian-speaking Internet community quickly drew a rather obvious conclusion that the actor meant the residents of the much-troubled embattled Donetsk and Luhansk regions and fighters of east-Ukrainian self-defense forces.
At the end of last month, reports from Kiev said the Ukrainian Culture Ministry and the Ukrainian Security Service had drafted lists of Russian arts personalities, whose visits to Ukraine were believed to be highly undesirable. While the Culture Ministry’s list ostensibly contained fourteen names, the list of the Security Service had “hundreds of names,” its spokesman Markiyan Lubkivsky said.
A proposal to deny Vladimir Zelensky entry of Russia came from Ilya Sviridov, the chairman of the Spravedlivaya Sila (Fair Force) youth movement, who sent a letter to Culture Minister Medinsky and to the State Duma culture committee chairman, Stanislav Govorukhin.
Specifically, Sviridov suggested that Zelensky should be banned from entering Russia and a new movie featuring him ‘Eight New Dates’ should be taken off release.
Medinsky said he disapproved of the calls to ban performers’ tours, concerts, presentations, and recitals. “I haven’t seen the sequel yet but the previous picture, ‘Eight First Dates’ was quite light-hearted and positive,” he said.
“There can be no acting along the same lines as the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, which seeks to show its omnipotence,” Medinsky said. “It would be ridiculous and undignified for Russia.”
“We don’t participate in synchronized absurdity shows and we’re not going to deprive our audience of the right to choose or to watch good movies because of someone’s poor jesting,” he said.