Beijing Leads Ukrainian Officials to Try to Cancel Cultural Performance

The Epoch Times

By Andrey Volkov On May 24, 2010 @ 2:53 am In Europe

KYIV, Ukraine—By putting pressure on Ukrainian authorities, Chinese diplomats may cause the cancellation of a performance by Shen Yun Performing Arts, which was scheduled for May 28 at a theater in Odessa, in southern Ukraine. Shen Yun is a New York based company that is currently on tour around the world.

Some of the show’s performers were denied visas to enter Ukraine, and were given no explanation.

An organization run by Odessa regional Council “Oblconcerteservice,” has informed the Shen Yun show organizer in Ukraine, charity organization “For Children of the New Century,” that the agreement to rent the venue in Odessa Academic and Ballet Theatre has been suspended.

The letter says that Chinese officials have requested Odessa regional council cancel the Shen Yun performance in Odessa.
“It is categorical for the show not to take place. In such situation the juridical details—whether the contract had been broken or suspended—mean the same,” Dmitry Polunin, the head of Oblconcerteservice, told The Epoch Times.

Based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts is a nonprofit organization that is independent of China’s communist regime. Through classical Chinese dance, the performing arts group seeks to revive the five-millennia-old artistic tradition of China that was largely destroyed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the Cultural Revolution.

Since 2006, the company has performed more than 500 shows around the world to millions of audience members.

OperaOnline said the show “gave a glimpse of a culture and its history that was at times hypnotic in its presentation, sensual in its fluid movements, and inspirational in its theme … and flawless musical performances … simply astounding to watch and a pleasure to the ear.”

The CCP regularly puts pressure on authorities in most of the countries where the show performs. Pressure usually comes through the use of its consulates, embassies, and community organizations, and aims to cancel the show.

Shen Yun takes as its mission to revive China’s artistic tradition that thrived before decades of suppression by the CCP. The show also includes dance programs set in contemporary China that portray the persecution of Falun Gong—a peaceful meditation practice persecuted by the regime since 1999. These portrayals are an irritant for CCP diplomats.

Polunin said that there was a letter from Ukraine’s foreign ministry requesting his organization not assist the Shen Yun show in Odessa. He said it was because of “political” issues.

Odessa officials told The Epoch Times in a private conversation that they also received letters from the Ukrainian prime minister, the minister of culture, and the head of the national security service not to let the show perform.

An Epoch Times reporter met with Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Vladimir Seminozhenko, whose negative letter was among those from the top officials, to ask him about the situation. He denied any government involvement in the interference with the performance.

Ukrainian officials say that the pressure is connected to the official visit of China’s foreign minister, Yang Jieqi to Kyiv last week.

International Support

Vice President of European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott has sent a letter to ask Ukraine’s president to let the Shen Yun perform in Ukraine.

Some members of Ukrainian Parliament, and members of the U.S. Congress also sent letters to Ukrainian officials to assist Shen Yun Performing Arts.

Human rights advocates have also condemned the Chinese diplomats’ interference with domestic affairs in Ukrainian. “This is brutal intervention and we can’t agree with it,” said Evgeniy Zakharov, the head of Kharkov human rights group in Ukraine.

Zakharov commented that the Chinese officials behave the same way as Soviet authorities who physically destroyed art and elements of culture. “Ukraine should respond if it considers itself to be a European civilized country,” he said.

Two performances of Shen Yun were canceled in Kyiv in April, last year, under the same scenario. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not grant visas to the show’s performers and the president’s office made the dates which Shen Yun was scheduled to perform unavailable at the country’s renowned theater, the National Palace Ukraine. Ukraine’s top officials declined to speak with The Epoch Times or the show’s organizers.

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