Ukrainian authorities are preparing to blacklist around 500 Russian cultural figures from entering the country because of their support for President Vladimir Putin’s position on Ukraine and Crimea, a Facebook post from Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, revealed yesterday.
In his post Gerashchenko wrote: “I consider it right to disallow [those who approve of the annexation of Crimea] from earning money from concerts and performances in Ukraine — let them perform in Crimea in front of seagulls on an empty beach.”
In an interview with Russian television channel Rain TV, Gerashchenko said that the names on the blacklist would correspond to those on an open letter in support of Putin in March this year.
Referring to Ukraine, the open letter stated: “We want to see the commonality of our peoples and our culture have a solid future. That is why we firmly reiterate our support of the position of the president of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and Crimea.”
Among the signatories were blockbuster film director Fedor Bondarchuk, conductor Valery Gergiev and director of the Moscow Art Theatre Oleg Tabakov.
Gerashchenko told Rain TV: “The Ukrainian government has approved the decision to create a commission to prepare a series of sanctions against those who promote separatism and terrorism, which include Russian citizens, in particular high-ranking citizens, who took the decision to go against Ukraine. The sanctions against cultural figures are just one part of a general packet of sanctions, which are being prepared by Ukraine.”
Gerashchenko added that the Ukrainian authorities may remove names from the blacklist if individuals “confess to being pressured into signing the open letter in support of Putin”, denounce the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the “terrorism war which has been unleashed onto Ukraine by Putin”.
Russia’s Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky has called the impending ban “a fantastical idea” and “the private views of one of Ukraine’s bureaucrats”.
The move by the Ukrainian authorities comes two weeks after a similar list was made public by Latvia’s foreign affairs ministry, which banned three popular Russian singers from entering the country because of their support for Putin.