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Bolshoi Conductor Resigns As Russia's War In Ukraine Continues Taking Toll On Cultural Institutions

Bolshoi music director Tugan Sokhiev (file photo)

The music director and principal conductor at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater has announced his resignation over pressure to take a position on the Ukraine conflict.

Tugan Sokhiev on March 6 became the latest high-profile figure to quit his post over his loyalties.

Sokhiev said in a statement he was resigning "with immediate effect" from his post at the Moscow theater as well as his equivalent position at Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, France.

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Sokhiev was appointed by the Bolshoi in 2014. He was brought in as part of moves to improve the theater's image after scandals including a 2013 acid attack on its then-artistic director Sergei Filin.

He was born in Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, the same region of the North Caucasus that star conductor Valery Gergiev comes from, and he is considered Gergiev's protege.

Gergiev was fired on March 1 from his position as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. The 68-year-old's dismissal came after he did not respond to demands by the orchestra that he distance himself from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Sokhiev said he decided to resign after "being forced to face the impossible option of choosing between my beloved Russian and beloved French musicians."

He cited opposition from authorities in Toulouse to his planned staging of a Franco-Russian music festival there, saying they "want me to express myself for peace."

Sokhiev became music director of the Toulouse orchestra in 2008 and continued to work with the orchestra after joining the Bolshoi.

Sokhiev did not say whether he backs or opposes Russia's actions in Ukraine but said he has never supported and "will always be against any conflicts in any shape and form."

The Bolshoi's director-general, Vladimir Urin, told TASS he was saddened by Sokhiev's decision.

"I'm very sorry. His departure is a serious problem for the Bolshoi Theater. It's unclear how the situation will develop from now."

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and TASS