Concertgoers’ message to Moscow: Free Ukraine’s prisoners of war

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On June 19, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine held an outdoor concert on the ministry’s patio in support of more than 300 Ukrainian prisoners of war illegally held by Russia.

The MFA Open Air Concert was aimed at raising public awareness to the issue and “mobilizing both Ukrainians and our international partners to fight for (the prisoners’) liberation,” as Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s ambassador-at-large stated in his interview to Hromadske. “This is our way to respond with the soft power of culture to the hard power employed by Russia,” he explained.

The event gathered foreign diplomats, Ukrainian high-ranking governmental officials, business and civil society leaders, as well as general public. Attendance was free of charge.

The sister of Nadiia Savchenko, the Ukrainian pilot captured by Russian forces and held for more than a year in jail, and Yuriy Yatsenko, a recently liberated EuroMaidan Revolution activist, were invited to the stage to give opening remarks.

Yatsenko shared his dreadful experience, describing the tortures that the Federal Security Service of Russia had applied to force him to testify that he had been sent to Russia as a spy forUkraine’s government. “The only thing they are afraid of is public condemnation, international scandals,” Yatsenko said, calling on the audience to bring the actions of Russian authorities to the attention of international community.

Tangos of Astor Piazzolla and serenades of Piotr Chaikovsky, Antonin Dvorak, Johann Strauss were performed by the Kyiv Soloists national chamber ensemble. Every piece of music was dedicated to one of the Ukrainian prisoners labeled as “terrorists” or “spies” by Russian courts, among them: Oleg Sentsov, Alexander Kolchenko, Aleksey Chirniy, Gennady Afanasyev, Kirill Silivonvchuk, Viktor Shur, Valentine Vyhivskyy.

For instance, Piazzola’s famous Libertango was dedicated to Nadiia Savchenko, to symbolize her brave fight for freedom. The hosts announced the tributes telling the prisoners’ stories to the audience. The closing piece was performed in honor of Yuriy Soloshenko, a 72-year old accused of espionage and facing 20 years of imprisonment.

The ministry organized a massive flashmob in support of all Ukrainians illegally detained by Russia. At 10 p.m. sharp, the bells of St. Michael’s Cathedral rang 10 times, as the audience rose holding up white roses in demonstration of their hope for the prisoners to come back home safely.

Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin gave a closing speech at the concert, calling for international support for Ukrainian prisoners illegally detained by Russia, and promising to apply every effort to approximate their liberation.

The following is a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the June 19 event:

Foreign Ministry holds concert on June 19 dedicated to dedicated to Ukrainian prisoners of Russia’s war

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the National Chamber Ensemble Kyiv Soloists held an outdoor classical music concert Night Serenades dedicated to Ukrainian prisoners, illegally detained by Russian Federation. They deserve the support of the Ukrainian and international community, based on the respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The event took place in the open square with unique acoustics in front of the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine between the columns and the facade of the building. This project is the next step in the process of developing the Foreign Ministry not only as a governmental office but also as an art venue.

Music of Peter Tchaikovsky, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonin Dvorak, Edvard Grieg, Felix Mendelssohn, Edward Elgar, Fritz Kreisler, Johann Strauss, and Astor Piazzolla was played.

Partners of the event are: Ukrainian Human Rights Group Euromaidan SOS, Amnesty International, Українська правда. Життя, Ukraine Today, Euromaidan Press, Kyiv Post,, Artmanagement, Zinteco Design & Engineering, LoraShen, Camellia.

National Chamber Ensemble Kyiv Soloists is unique by its diversity: each of the musicians has a history of own solo concerts, the ensemble features extraordinarily harmonious sound. Musicians of Kyiv Soloists are representatives of one performing school, founded by the “Ukrainian Paganini”, conductor and teacher Bohodar Kotorovych. For more than 10 years the Chamber Ensemble holds the title of an “Ambassador of Ukrainian culture in the world.” Currently the music director of the Ensemble is the world famous cellist and conductor Dmitry Yablonsky (USA/Israel). Artistic director of the Ensemble is Honored Artist of Ukraine Oles Yasko.

Dmitry Yablonsky (USA/Israel) held solo performances on such famous stages as Carnegie Hall, La Scala, Moscow Great Hall, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall, Taiwan National Hal, Théâtre Mogador, Cite de la musique and the Louvre. His chamber music partners have included Victor Tretyakov, Leif Ove Andsnes, Yuri Bashmet, Vadim Repin, Boris Berezovsky and many more. In 2007, the cellist was nominated for a Grammy Award. Dmitry Yablonsky has organized many international festivals all over the world such as Qabala Festival in Azerbaijan, the festival of “Wandering Stars” which is held by young performers in Europe, in Russia, the U.S. and Israel.

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