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Concert tour to Russia: Betrayal or mission?

11.03.2013  |  15:22

Concert tour to Russia: Betrayal or mission?. 29147.jpeg

Georgian State Ensemble "Erisioni" went on tour in Russia. The tour was preceded by critical statements about the ensemble team and its management. "Erisioni" was called traitor, and its performance was compared with "dancing on the graves of people who died in August 2008". What do they think about it in Georgia? And can the cultural ties help establish improve bilateral relations?


Despite a real protest campaign, launched against the national ensemble "Erisioni" in Georgia, it has departed on tour in Russia. Erisioni's decision was even called a betrayal and an action directed against the interests of Georgia.

The concert tour of the "Erisioni" to the Russian Federation was first protested by the former Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Nikoloz Vashakidze. "This is one of the most shameful chapters in the history of Georgia", Vashakidze said in a statement, published in the media. "As long as the question of the occupied territories of Georgia is unresolved, dancing at the Moscow stage for me is equivalent to dancing on the grave of those people killed in August 2008. I am very sorry that the Georgians have lost basic national dignity. Imagine how we look at similar events in the eyes of the Russians", writes Vashakidze.

Artistic director of the ensemble "Erisioni" Jemal Chkuaseli says that in this case it is about the cultural links, not politics. Chkuaseli notes that since 2008 he has constantly received invitations from Russia. "For some reason we refused, but now we have decided to go. We are linked with the Russian people with a long history and we look forward to continue these relationships", Chkuaseli told reporters. According to him, the concert "Erisioni" will be held in Moscow also at the request of a large Georgian diaspora in Russia's capital.

Some politicians, mainly from the party of Mikheil Saakashvili - "United National Movement" - also do not support this tour, but at the same time say that it is necessary to separate politics from culture.

"I agree with the statements by Nikoloz Vashakidze", the MP from the United National Movement David Darchiashvili told the GeorgiaTimes. "At the same time, I have no desire to talk about matters of art in a political context, since it would be good if fewer artists talk about politics. If we look at these performances in terms of politics, then I am against it, and from the artist's point of view ... well, then it's difficult for me to say. As you can see, artists are greatly represented in the politics, including in the Parliament. Some people think that if they have made a movie or a performance, or played a role in a movie, then they can actively participate in making certain decisions. I think that is wrong. I do not want to interfere in matters of art, but I appeal them not to interfere in politics", said Darchiashvili.

Representatives of the "Georgian Dream" - the party of Bidzina Ivanishvili, note that everyone is entitled to their own opinion about the concert tour of "Erisioni". "No one can say for sure whether it is right decision or not", the MP from the coalition "Georgian Dream" Levan Berdzenishvili said in an interview with GeorgiaTimes. "When it comes to the normalization of relations, restoration of contacts, you have to look at these topics more extensively, not like those people who say they should do nothing as long as all the problems are unresolved. I do not think this is the correct position. Anyway, those who organize such tours say that the establishment of cultural relations will give a positive result. This position has the right to exist. In my view, the establishment of cultural relations is necessary in any case. At the same time, we must also continue political process. Of course, representatives of the previous government perceive the concert tour of "Erisioni" very negatively, but at the due time, they bought gas and electricity from the country which they called the occupier. We can never achieve their dream - to sever any relationship with Russia. But the questions of dignity cannot be solved at the political level. If anyone thinks that such steps infringe our national dignity, well, that's their position. I think that both Georgian artists should perform in Russia and Russian artists should perform in Georgia. Concert tour of Alexander Makarevich in Georgia makes sense. Concert tour of "Erisioni" in Russia - also makes sense. I think culture has its own function on the way of restoration of relations", said Berdzenishvili.

But an expert on political issues Soso Tsiskarishvili notes that for the Russian-Georgian relations it would be better that Georgia in the eyes of Russian citizens is associated with the country of Jemal Chkuaseli than with Mikheil Saakashvili. "Any communication between the two peoples is welcome",  Soso Tsiskarishvili said in an interview to GeorgiaTimes. "I would call the reaction of the people who are against such contacts the "voice of the past". With such archaic mentality in today's environment we will not achieve a positive result. Of course this is a demonstration of the Georgian culture abroad. When Russian theater companies are touring in Georgia, Rustaveli Theater is full of sound of applause, and Georgian teams cause the same reaction among Russian audience. This should be a guide for the people with narrow political view, who oppose such contacts", Tsiskarishvili said.

Despite the uproar around the tour of ensemble "Erisioni" in Russia, another Georgian team - national ballet "Suhishvilebi" is going to hold a concert in St. Petersburg on April 3. Apparently, political opposition is not a hindrance to culture figures.


Mikheil Vardzelashvili


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