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Play in St. Petersburg starring outspoken war critic is canceled after Moscow politician threatens to send mercenaries on stage
Citing planned maintenance work, a performing arts theater in St. Petersburg has canceled a January 4 performance of a play starring Liya Akhedzhakova following criticism from Moscow City Council officials regarding Akhedzhakova’s opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier this week, councilman Kirill Shchitov posted a photograph of an advertisement for the upcoming show and questioned the sanity of Petersburg residents. Twenty minutes later, Moscow City Council Deputy Speaker Andrey Medvedev (who moonlights as the deputy head of programming for a state television network) implied that mercenaries from the Wagner private military company might disrupt the play’s performance:
If Akhedzhakova is accompanied on stage by the “musicians” [a nickname for Wagner mercenaries], it could turn out to be quite the performance. Ms. Akhedzhakova, are you a fan of Wagner?
Speaking to journalists, Liya Akhedzhakova rejected the idea that the January 5 show was canceled because of her criticism of the war in Ukraine. The play has been staged for the past several years without a problem, she said. In the past, however, the Moscow Sovremennik Theater canceled performances of another play starring Akhedzhakova after an officer’s group objected its supposed “gay propaganda,” “insults to veterans,” and “incitements of ethnic hatred.”
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