Ballet dancer

Russian ballet dancer censored for pro-war show in Uzbekistan

ALMATY, Sept 28 (Reuters) – A prominent Russian ballet dancer complained on Wednesday that he was censored for performing a song dedicated to fallen Russian soldiers on tour in Uzbekistan, while Uzbek authorities said he had deviated from an agreed program.

The incident highlighted the concern of Moscow’s Central Asian partners over its military campaign in Ukraine, another former Soviet republic.

Dancer Sergei Polunin said in an Instagram video that he performed a dance – in military uniform – for fallen Russian soldiers to a song whose lyrics include lines such as “We will rise, as long as God is with us and that the truth is ours”.

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The song “Let Us Rise” was released on February 23, Russian Army Day – the day before Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

After the performance, Polunin said, officials from the Foundation for the Development of Culture and Arts of Uzbekistan – an Uzbek state agency overseeing the arts – brutally reprimanded him for it. Polunin said he wanted Russian diplomats to defend him.

“We must not give in to this, we must not allow them to do this to Russian artists and Russian culture,” he said.

Uzbek news site Gazeta.uz, however, quoted the foundation as saying its officials were polite and pointed out that Polunin was supposed to stick to the program, which it said was the musician’s song “Take Me to Church.” Irish Hozier.

Despite close ties to Russia, Uzbekistan and its neighbor Kazakhstan have refused to support what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, calling for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Over the past week, tens of thousands of Russians have fled to Central Asia to escape a conscription drive announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin amid setbacks on Ukraine’s battlefields.

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Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov Editing by Mark Heinrich

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