Watch: Putin’s Conductor of Propaganda Plays a Show in Palmyra
Music is once again wafting through the ancient monuments in Palmyra, Syria.
Russia wants the world to know that its robust military role in Syria is reintroducing beauty to the war-torn country.
In the ancient city of Palmyra, the contrast could not be greater: A month-and-a-half ago, before Syrian forces retook it with the help of Russian airpower, the Islamic State still reigned there, able to destroy invaluable Roman monuments and pre-Islamic artifacts on a whim.
Now, with the city back in the hands of government forces, the pro-Putin conductor Valery Gergiev is making hearts sing where they once wept. On a sunny Thursday afternoon, Gergiev led his St. Petersburg-based Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra in a concert remembering the sacrifice of a Russian special operator who called in an airstrike on his own location as the Islamic State surrounded it during the campaign to recapture Palymra. Gergiev played Bach and a cello piece by Soviet composer Rodion Shchedrin to an audience of Syrian and Russian soldiers.
Last November, Islamic State militants chose the same Roman theater to make a dramatic show of executing Syrian teenagers. Gergiev is paid a reported $16.5 million per year to perform around the world — and dispense Kremlin propaganda with the beauty of music.
Watch the orchestral show below:
Photo credit: YOUSSEF BADAWI/EPA