According to the National Union of Theatre Artists of Ukraine, art director Oleksandr Knyha was arrested and taken away with unknown destination during searches of Russian military forces after the occupation of Kherson in the premises of the Kherson Theatre on May 23. Knyha is chairman of the Eurasian Theatre Association, president of the Melpomene Tavria International Theatre Festival and a member of the Kherson Regional Council. Knyha’s wife, Oksana, was also arrested.
Viktor Havrilyuk, artistic director of the Kherson Academic Regional Puppet Theatre was detained on March 22 during street demonstrations in Kherson. Bogdan Strutynskyi, Chairman of the National Union of Theatre Artists of Ukraine writes in his statement: “We call on the whole world’s theatre community to join in our demands to liberate Ukrainian artist Oleksandr Knyha. We need to make known the horrid acts of violence and repression unleashed by the Russian military against the Ukrainian culture figures and do everything possible and impossible to ensure their freedom. The world must be aware of these war crimes!” Sources report that Knyha was released late last night.
Over 18.000 artists and cultural workers across Russia have signed an open letter for peace in Ukraine, published on February 25th. The war “…will take away our last opportunities to fully work, speak out, create projects, popularize and develop culture, and take away the future. Everything that has been done culturally over the past 30 years is now at risk.” “We, artists, curators, architects, critics, art critics, art managers, representatives of the culture and art of the Russian Federation, express our absolute solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We demand immediate peace talks.”
Because of an amendment to the law passed today (March 4th) by the Russian parliament that makes spreading false information about the Russian army subject to heavy fines and imprisonment of up to 15 years, the initiators decided to remove the original terms “war” and “invasion” from the text. Update: The open letter and the list of subscribers has since been depublished.
European artists and cultural organisations are urging world leaders to support civil society to continue active collaboration with Ukraine. Initiated by the European Theatre Convention, 27 signatories from performing arts and cultural networks are ready to receive and host artists, to stage performances, to organise events, to inform and facilitate access to resources, to advocate for a peaceful solution. “We stress that the European cultural sector is united and that you can count on us.”
ITI stands for the consolidation of peace, understanding and friendship between peoples. In a letter jointly initiated by Israel and Germany via the ITI Action Committee for Artists Rights (ACAR), 16 European ITI centers express solidarity with their colleagues in Ukraine and condemn the invasion by Russian forces.
Theater directors and organizations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have written a joint letter expressing solidarity with Gluchowski and protesting against his planned removal as artistic and managing director of the Juliusz Slowacki Theatre in Cracow: “We, the undersigned colleagues, strongly support Krzysztof Głuchowski, the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków, and the right to artistic freedom in Poland which has repeatedly been threatened or suspended in similar cases since 2016. We demand from the Board of the Małopolska Region to not remove Krzysztof Głuchowski from his office as Artistic Director, and from the Polish Ministry of Culture to not withdraw its financial contribution previously designated to the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre.”
The letter has been sent to the Marshal of Malopolska Voivodeship last night. ITI Germany as one of the signatories as well as the European Festivals Association (EFA) and the European Theatre Convention (ETC) have distributed the letter in their networks. Several European ITI centres, among them Sweden, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Swiss, have already sent signs of support.
Founded 2012, PACE.V4 / Performing Arts Central Europe – Visegrad Countries Focus is a cooperation network among cultural organisations in central and eastern European (Visegrad) countries. The platform condemns in a statement the violation of international law and sovereignty of Ukraine and declares: “The long-term goal of PACE is a mutual peaceful collaboration between countries of Central / Eastern Europe and Eastern Partnership countries, including Ukraine, which is seen as a valuable and irreplaceable member of our community. So is the Russian Federation, so is Belarus, and other countries.”