Arnon Grunberg



On a conductor - Charlotte Higgins and Artem Mazhulin in the Guardian:

‘Russian soldiers have shot dead a Ukrainian musician in his home after he refused to take part in a concert in occupied Kherson, according to the culture ministry in Kyiv.
Conductor Yuriy Kerpatenko declined to take part in a concert “intended by the occupiers to demonstrate the so-called ‘improvement of peaceful life’ in Kherson”, the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page.
The concert on 1 October was intended to feature the Gileya chamber orchestra, of which Kerpatenko was the principal conductor, but he “categorically refused to cooperate with the occupants”, the statement said.
Kerpatenko, who was also the principal conductor of Kherson’s Mykola Kulish Music and Drama Theatre, had been posting defiant messages on his Facebook page until May.’

‘“We know the Russian regime is hunting activists, journalists, artists, community leaders, and anyone ready to resist the occupation,” said the prizewinning Ukrainian novelist turned war crimes investigator Victoria Amelina.
“Yet, even knowing the current pattern and history, we cannot and, more importantly, shouldn’t get used to hearing about more brutal murders of a bright, talented, brave people whose only fault was being Ukrainian.” She drew a parallel between Kerpatenko and Mykola Kulish, the Ukrainian playwright after whom the theatre where the conductor worked is named.
“Kulish was shot on 3 November 1937, near Sandarmokh, with 289 other Ukrainian writers, artists and intellectuals. Yuriy Kerpatenko was shot in his home in Kherson in October 2022,” she said.
The Russians’ actions were “pure genocide”, said the conductor Semyon Bychkov from Paris, where he was performing as music director of the Czech Philharmonic. The St Petersburg-born conductor left Russia as a young man in the 1970s.


The novelist Andrey Kurkov, author of Death and the Penguin, said: ““Now the name of Yuriy Kerpatenko will be added to the list of murdered artists of Ukraine. I increasingly think that Russia is not only seeking to occupy Ukrainian territories, but also diligently destroying Ukrainian identity, an important part of which is Ukrainian culture.”

Read the article here.

Early September I was in Ukraine and quite a few Ukrainians told me how the Soviet-Union i.e. Stalin had tried to erase and degrade Ukrainian culture. I didn't have to go to Ukraine to know this, but the details count, the expressions on faces, the anger with which history is recounted, or the reignation. Old habits don’t die.

It would be interesting to know who gave the order to shoot Yuriy Kerpatenko. But probably it will never come to a trial. And wherever people talk about the superiority of their own culture the legitimization of bloodshed is close by. Or perhaps they mean, we are superior because we spilled more blood.

(There is also The Third Man of course, the movie, bloodshed and great art go well together.)

discuss on facebook