Gergiev to Lead Defiant South Ossetia Concert

London Symphony's principal conductor hails Russian victory
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2008 12:47 PM CDT
Vladimir Putin and Director and Chief Conductor of the Mariinsky Theater, Valery Gergiev, left, are seen during the 225th anniversary celebrations of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
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(Newser) – Valery Gergiev, the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, among other prominent posts, will preside over a victorious concert tonight in South Ossetia, celebrating Russia’s recent military successes, theTimes reports. Gergiev is an ethnic Ossetian and close personal friend of Vladimir Putin—they are godfathers of each others’ children—and Putin is expected to be guest of honor. The concert will coincide with rallies declaring South Ossetia independent.

Gergiev, who is also artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre Opera Company in Moscow,   blames the fighting in Georgia entirely on Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili. “The world should know what is happening. There were a thousand or more South Ossetians… killed,” he told the BBC last week. “The arrival of Russian troops saved maybe a thousand or more lives.”