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“Leaving the bridges of culture open.” Italian theaters justify allowing FSB corporate parties singer to perform on their stages

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Opera singer Vasily Ladyuk, known as the 'Lubyanka baritone' for his frequent performances at closed corporate parties of the FSB and the FSO, is set to perform at three Italian theaters, according to confirmation from the Municipal Theaters of Piacenza, Modena, and Reggio Emilia. The contract was signed prior to coronavirus restrictions, and the theaters have explained that they continued to invite Russian artists despite the conflict in Ukraine, in an effort to maintain cultural connections by “leaving the bridges of culture open”. However, they have pledged to conduct additional assessments moving forward.

“I'm responding to you after discussing with other production theaters, namely Modena (where the first performance of the opera Don Carlos is scheduled) and Reggio Emilia. I've read the piece published by The Insider but, as previously reported, we needed time to agree on a response with all the theaters involved in this production. In agreement with the co-producers, we reiterate that the contract with baritone Vasily Ladyuk was signed in the 2019/2020 season, even before the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of theatrical activities.
Following the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, we have upheld the principle of inviting both Russian and Ukrainian artists to perform at our theaters, leaving the bridges of culture open. In addition, we have offered our stages to support Ukrainian artists and have shown solidarity with Ukraine by hosting performances by orchestras and dance groups that extended their tours in our country, including with the participation of local Ukrainian communities. We are currently conducting further assessments and evaluations of the information you have presented to us.”

According to The Insider's report on March 12, Vasily Ladyuk's tour schedule includes performances in Italy. Specifically, he is scheduled to perform in the opera Don Carlos at the Piacenza City Theater on November 10 and 12, 2023.

Ladyuk, who is listed as an accomplice of the war on Ukraine on Myrotvorets, was awarded the FSB Prize in 2020 for his “active involvement in patriotic creative projects and contribution to the spiritual and moral education of security agency employees”. On May 10, 2022, he performed at the Lessons of History gala concert alongside other artists such as Oleg Gazmanov, Grigory Leps, Lyube, and Stas Mikhailov, who are known for their active support of the war against Ukraine.

The Lukoil Charitable Foundation, which is headed by Nelli Alekperova, the wife of the owner of the oil company, has been a long-time sponsor of Ladyuk. While Lukoil is not currently subject to European sanctions, the European Parliament has been urging for such measures. In early February 2023, parliament members stated that the company should be subject to restrictions, along with Rosatom.

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