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.”