This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
An actor in a theater in the Siberian region of Buryatia has slashed his veins while on stage to protest the firing of the company’s artistic director last year over his stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Artur Shuvalov of the Russian Drama Theater in Buryatia’s capital, Ulan-Ude, slashed his wrist with a knife at the end of a play on March 29 in front of a live audience, saying that he and his colleagues had been under pressure for their attempts to get the theater’s artistic director, Sergei Levitsky, back after he openly condemned the war in Ukraine.
Shuvalov said that hours earlier his wife, Svetlana Polyanskaya, who is an actress in the same theater, filed her resignation after coming under constant pressure from management for urging Levitsky’s reinstatement.
Shuvalov is currently hospitalized with wounds to his arms. Buryatia Culture Minister Soelma Dagayeva said Shuvalov’s life was not in danger.
Since Levitsky was fired last year, the theater’s actors have demanded local authorities reinstate him and have held different types of protest, including removing the symbols of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine from the theater’s facade and raising awareness of the situation in local media.
The actors also complained that the new art director, Vyacheslav Dyachenko, had called them prostitutes by calling them “representatives of the oldest profession in the world,” and demanding they perform “simple plays that are comprehensible to ordinary people.”
“I do not want to hear that actors are similar to representatives of the oldest profession. I think our audience deserves smart performances, not those demanded by our artistic director. I am sorry. I am tired. I do not have any other choice,” Shuvalov said before slashing his wrist, adding that Dyachenko and the theater’s executive director, Natalya Svetozarova, would be responsible for his death.
Buryatia government officials said they were investigating the incident, including “events that preceded the incident.”
Dagayeva added that Shuvalov’s wife resigned of her own free will.