The Kherson conductor was assassinated in his home for refusing to cooperate with the Russian occupiers

Yuri Kerpatenko
Yuri Kerpatenko

The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine denounced the murder of conductor of the Kherson Philharmonic Orchestra Yuriy Kerpatenkofor having refused to cooperate with the Russian troops deployed in that annexed region.

According to coincidental information from the Ukrainian media, Kerpatenko was executed at his home by Russian soldiers on Saturday.

The pro-Russian authorities of Kherson, to the north of the also annexed Crimean peninsula, organized a concert on October 1 to celebrate the “restoration of peace” in the region. Kerpatenko, who since 2004 has been chief conductor of the Philharmonic, He categorically refused to collaborate in that concert, as well as to leave the city recently annexed by Russia.

The news of the execution of the orchestra conductor has been followed by the condemnations of European governments, such as Germany, whose Minister of Culture, Claudia Roth, has expressed her astonishment at the purpose of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, “and his executioners” of ” destroy Ukrainian culture and identity.”

Yuri Kerpatenko, who had harshly criticized the Russian occupation on his Facebook wall, had been working at the Kherson Regional Philharmonic since 2000. In 2004, he became the chief director of the region’s Music and Drama Theater named after Mykola Kulish and was also the principal conductor of the Gilea Chamber Orchestra.

As detailed Guardianthe Ukrainian authorities have launched a formal investigation “on the basis of violations of the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder”.

The condemnation of the Ukrainian and international artists was not long in coming. “The history of Russia imposing a “do or die” policy against artists is not new. It has a history that goes back hundreds of years,” she said. Finnish-Ukrainian conductor Dalia Stasevska, who was due to lead the Last Night of the Proms at London’s Albert Hall last month before it was canceled due to the Queen’s death.

“I have seen too much silence from Russian colleagues,” he said. “Is it time for Russian musicians, especially those living and working abroad, to finally step forward and take a stand against the actions of the Russian regime in Ukraine?”

A fortnight ago, Stasevska drove a humanitarian supply truck to Lviv from her home in Finland, before leading the INSO-Lviv orchestra in a concert of contemporary Ukrainian music.

“We know that the Russian regime is persecuting activists, journalists, artists, community leaders and anyone who is willing to resist the occupation,” said the award-winning nUkrainian novelist turned war crimes investigator Victoria Amelina. “However, even knowing the current pattern and history, we cannot and, more importantly, must not get used to hearing about more brutal murders of a brilliant, talented and brave people whose only fault was being Ukrainian.”

The novelist drew a parallel between Kerpatenko and Mykola Kulish, the Ukrainian playwright who gives his name to the theater where the director worked. “Kulish was shot on November 3, 1937, near Sandarmokh, with 289 other Ukrainian writers, artists and intellectuals. Yuriy Kerpatenko was shot at his home in Kherson in October 2022,″ she said.

The actions of the Russians were “pure genocide”, said the conductor Semyon Bychkov from Paris, where he worked as music director of the Czech Philharmonic. The Saint Petersburg-born conductor left Russia as a young man in the 1970s.

“The tragic irony of this is that it speaks of the superiority of Russian culture, of its humanism,” he said. “And here they have murdered someone who is really bringing beauty to people’s lives. It’s disgusting”. “Bullets do not distinguish between people. It didn’t make me feel any worse that this man was a conductor, but rather he confirmed the sheer evil that has been going on even before the first bombs fell on the Ukraine.”

Novelist Andrei Kurkov, author of “Death and the Penguin”, said: “Now the name of Yuriy Kerpatenko will be added to the list of murdered Ukrainian artists. Increasingly I think that Russia not only intends to occupy the Ukrainian territories, but also diligently destroys the Ukrainian identity, an important part of which is the Ukrainian culture.”


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