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Arvo Pärt on Khodorkovsky

In the past we’ve blogged about the composer Arvo Pärt dedicating a symphony to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and given the second show trial, he has spoken out again in his defense.  Below is a follow up from Helsingin Sanomat:

“He is a genius, amazing, a great talent, who has a warm heart and a pure vision.”

This is how Estonian composer Arvo Pärt describes jailed Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to whom he has dedicated his fourth symphony (Los Angeles).The European première was in Helsinki on Thursday, April 16th, just a few months after the world’s first performance, which was conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen in Los Angeles.

“All of the bad things that you have read about Khodorkovsky is propaganda put out by the Russian state”, Pärt declares.

“I have not met Khodorkovsky, but I know his pure vision already fromthe German years”, says the 73-year-old composer, who also has a homein Berlin.

He compares the Russian legal system with those in NorthKorea and Iran. “Those who are in power dictate the decisions”, Pärtsays.

He hopes that his symphony will somehow reach the prison in Siberia,and says that the symphony is dedicated to all oppressed people inRussia.

This seems strange. Pärt is known as a composer of ostensibly simpleand genuinely spiritual music, which can be heard in films, such as Lesamants du Pont-Neuf, There Will Be Blood, and The Thin Red Line.

Pärt’s image is that of a devout Christian who avoids publicity, but in recent years he seems to have become politicised.

He dedicated the performances of his works to the memory of journalist Anna Politkovskaya soon after her murder.

“That isn’t politics. We do not think about politics when we thinkabout the crucifixion of Jesus. What those in power did toPolitkovskaya and to Khodorkovsky is shocking, but our minds are alwaysfilled with pity and sympathy for the victims, instead of politics.”

But didn’t Pärt say in Los Angeles that Khodorkovsky would be a better president than Vladimir Putin?

“I was slightly misquoted. I don’t talk politics.”