Valery Gergiev

The lives of even anti-Putin Russian artists are being made impossible

Swift and sure, the guillotine blade came down on Russians in the West on 24 February last year, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. The logic was clear as concerned Putin loyalists; cutting them off from western gravy trains in the face of their dear leader’s grotesque aggression made some sense. They could bed down with the devil, so to speak, but not on our buck. So one doesn’t weep much over the relegation to Europe’s fringes of the likes of openly pro-Putin musicians such as pianist Denis Matsuev or the former LSO and Munich Philharmonic chief conductor Valery Gergiev. Then there’s the soprano Anna Netrebko, who, seen as being close