Bolshoi Theatre to show ballet in support of Russian army

Moscow (AFP) – Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre said a performance on Saturday will be in support of Russia's "military operation" in Ukraine, with all proceeds going towards the families of Russian soldiers who died in combat.

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"On April 2, 2022, Aram Khachaturian's ballet Spartacus will be shown on the historic stage of the Bolshoi Theatre," it said in a statement on Friday.

The proceeds will go to support "families of soldiers who died during the special military operation of the Russian Federation in Ukraine," the theatre added.

The Bolshoi said this performance will kick off a "large-scale charity event" organised by Russia's culture ministry.

Among its goals are "support for the Russian audience, those who help our army" and "assistance to evacuees from Donbas", referring to eastern Ukrainian regions controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.

As part of the event, several Russian theatres will hold performances for members of "youth, volunteer and veteran organisations" as well as residents of the separatist republics.

The Bolshoi's music director and principal conductor Tugan Sokhiev resigned in early March, saying he felt under pressure due to calls to take a position on the Ukraine conflict.

Prima ballerina Olga Smirnova also quit the Bolshoi last month to join the Dutch National Ballet, after saying she was against the war "with all the fibres of my soul".

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Russian troops into Ukraine on February 24, the West has piled sanctions on Moscow that have seen Russia increasingly isolated, politically and financially. The sanctions have extended into spheres such as arts and culture.