Valentina Lisitsa
© Wikimedia Commons/Michael von Aichberger
Valentina Lisitsa
In April this year the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) cancelled a concert by Ukrainian-American classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa at the Roy Thomson Hall because she spoke out against Kiev's 'anti-terror operations' in eastern Ukraine. The TSO told Valentina's agent: "the Toronto Symphony Orchestra received some messages from ticket buyers and others expressing concern over pianist Valentina Lisitsa's public political statements." The TSO quickly found a substitute and paid Lisitsa's fees.

Needless to say, her 'political views', which according to the TSO are "public incitement of hatred", are in fact valid concerns about military actions against civilian targets, actions that have been strongly supported by the US and Canadian governments since the West's installment of the current regime, which includes radicals with links to nazism, and the thousands of innocent lives lost as a result. In a plea on Facebook, posted on April 6th, Lisitsa wrote:
...I took to Twitter in order to get the other side of the story heard, the one you never see in the mainstream media - the plight of my people, the good and bad things that were happening in Ukraine. I translated news stories from Ukrainian language websites, I translated eyewitness accounts of atrocities.... I became really good in unmasking fakes published by Western media in order to make one side of the civil war look whiter and softer than Easter bunny, and another - as sub-humans, not worthy of mercy, the "collateral damage".

To give you just one example: one of my feats was to confront French fashion magazine Elle, who published a glowing cover story about women in Ukrainian army. After the research I have shown to the magazine in my Twitter posts that the "cover girl" they have chosen to show was in fact a horrible person, open Neo-Nazi, racist, anti-Semite who boasted of murdering civilians for fun! The magazine issued a written public apology.

I was very proud! But with time my activities attracted a lot of vicious haters. I was a particularly important "target" because of being Ukrainian, thus - a traitor. I thought I knew hate - my playing on YouTube certainly "attracted" a fair share of hate mail. But I was mistaken. Death threats, wishes for my family to die, calling me "paid Kremlin wh*re"...the list goes on and on. My haters didn't stop there. Trying, in their own words, to teach me a lesson, they have now attempted to silence me as a musician. ...
In this world, 'freedom of speech' is granted only to those who say the 'right' things. Oftentimes, those who speak the truth are attacked, in one way or another, or have their words twisted in order to show them in a bad light. Now Lisitsa is under fire again because Dutch airline KLM is removing her music from its in-flight entertainment program.

The decision was made after Inna Thorn, a Ukrainian woman who resides in Canada, and member of an openly anti-Russian and anti-Putin group called "Russian-speaking Ukrainian Nationalists", wrote the following complaint in an e-mail to KLM on August 23rd:
I traveled this August with KLM‬ from Canada to Netherlands and then to Ukraine and was appalled to see Valentina Lisitsa‬ being featured in your in-flight entertainment.

This year Ms. Lisitsa contract and concerts were cancelled by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra because of her heinous tweets where she calls Ukrainians "dog shit", "pigs", "nazi" and celebrates terrorists responsible for taking down MH17‬ and killing close to 300 people on board including nearly 200 Dutch citizens*.

I am certain the Dutch airline company KLM will reconsider their decision about including a xenophobic performer in their entertainment programming after being informed about Ms. Lisitsa's other performance. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
KLM replied:
Dear Inna en Dmitry. First of all, please accept our apologies for the delay in the reply. We do appreciate passengers who reach out to us and point out something as sensitive and fragile as this matter. Our organization still mourns for the loss of the countless innocent lives lost on the MH17 flight. We regret that we were not able to catch this before, but have taken immediate action. The artist will be removed from the playlist in our Inflight Entertainment as soon as possible. Thank you once again for being observant and notifying us about this immediately.
In addition, a spokesperson for the airline told national Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant: "We were informed through social media that Lisitsa has expressed sympathy for the attack on MH17. That is horrible. We are now removing her music from all flights."

Note how KLM decides to 'take immediate action' without verifying Thorn's spurious accusations, even though it claims to have investigated Lisitsa's alleged statements. In response to this, Lisitsa told RT: "My first reaction was outrage. They didn't contact me or my recording company [and ask for a] second opinion."

Furthermore, she took to Twitter and has asked editors of de Volkskrant to present evidence for the claim that she "showed sympathy for the MH17 attack." Its editors have yet to respond.

The day after the MH17 crash on July 17th 2014, Lisitsa tweeted the following: "Heartbroken over news of Malaysian Airlines plane catastrophe. Disgusted over attempts to escalate the war using it as a pretext." How this translates to 'celebrating terrorists responsible for taking down MH17' is beyond me. If Lisitsa posted a tweet spelling this out, it must have come from Thorn's imagination as none can be found on Lisitsa's Twitter page.

inna thorn klm
© Inna Thorn
Picture of KLM's entertainment program by Inna Thorn, posted in the facebook group 'Russian Speaking Canadians For Peace' on August 23rd with the text: "I was so happy not to think about Putin trolls and Lisitsa and her hatred for a bit, and then during last hour of transcontinental KLM flight an unpleasant surprise. Imagine ))) I was wide awake right away. I am a regular KLM customer and KLM is to hear from me soon."
In addition, a blog that spreads disinformation and hatred about Lisitsa claims that she is associated with 'Russia-backed' terrorists, and 'terrorist leader' Aleksander Zakharchenko who, according to its anonymous author, is "the person in command of those who shot down MH17 last year." One of its posts concludes:
...Lisitsa's affection and support of those who bring death and destruction in East Ukraine and who are responsible for shooting down MH17 is obvious and is not a result of our imagination but of Lisitsa's actions and tweets, for which she does not seem to want to take any responsibility.
To such supporters of the Western-installed regime in Kiev, those who are fighting for their lives in eastern Ukraine are 'terrorists', and Russia, which has sent tons of humanitarian aid to the region, is at fault. It completely escapes them that Lisitsa has a much better and more accurate understanding of the situation in Ukraine, which by now has claimed the lives of at least 50,000 civilians and servicemen since February last year. It is clear to anyone who has followed the developing chaos there that Lisitsa does not support 'terrorists', but simply supports those who are fighting to protect their loved ones against neo-nazi extremists and the Kiev regime, and offers some relief via her music to those who have suffered in this war:
Renowned pianist Lisitsa, who condemned Kiev war against E. Ukraine, to perform concert in Donbass

...Lisitsa stated that she would be very happy if it were held outdoors, "because I know how much interest and thirst for classical music and for music in general there is among Donbass residents, and I'm very excited to go there."

Asked about whose composers' works she planned to play, Lisitsa noted that it would be "very symbolic to perform Prokofiev, because he is from that region; he was a composer whose roots are [in the Donbass region]" and his music was inspired and influenced by his homeland. Moreover, she plans to play beloved pieces by composers including Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven and Bach, whose "pieces... unite all of us - that make us feel like one close family."

In addition to her hopes of giving joy to the people of Donbass, Lisitsa also hopes to show her fans and those who observe and follow her work that ordinary people "on all sides don't want war, to fight with each other; they don't want their children, their husbands, sons and daughters to die under bombs and bullets." She wants to show her Western followers that the people of Donbass are just like them, that they love classical music just like them. Noting that she will post videos of her performance on YouTube, she said that "I think that's the best kind of service I can possibly do for the people of Donbass."