The Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Interior Forces and Iosif Kobzon, a popular singer and RF Gosduma deputy, are giving charity concerts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Earlier, Russia officially recognised independence of the two republics. Today, on 17 September, concerts will take place in the Abkhazian capital of Sukhumi and later in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.
The Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Interior Forces performs not just before the ordinary public at concert halls, but, also for troops stationed at army bases situated in “hot spots”. Not long ago, this term was used in reference to South Ossetia, the scene of a recent Georgian invasion, and also to Abkhazia, where Russian efforts helped prevent a new bloody conflict.
“The ensemble responded with great enthusiasm to Iosif Kobzon’s idea of musical congratulations to Abkhazia and South Ossetia”, one of the organisers of today’s concert in Tskhinvali, Colonel Vasili Panchenkov, an Interior Forces officer, said in an exclusive interview with VOR. “Recently, we had a chance to witness and to feel the enthusiastic welcome Maestro Valery Gergiev and his orchestra were given in South Ossetia. I am glad that the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Interior Forces is continuing this tradition of charity concerts we need so much now. A contact with art will enable people who went through a terrible ordeal to take a new look at the world. We want the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to feel that Russia supports them, to know that we won’t leave our neighbours in the lurch”.
The charity concerts began just days after military operations in South Ossetia came to a halt. The Orchestra of the St Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre directed by the renowned conductor Valery Gergiev was the first to come to war-torn Tskhinvali. Other cultural ambassadors from Russia followed their example. Today, Tskhinvali is greeting new participants in a Russian charity marathon in support of peace in the Caucasus.
17 September 2008
Voice of Russia World Service