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Ukrainian-Born Pianist Replaced Over Pro-Rebel Comments

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has cancelled appearances by a Ukrainian-born classical pianist, Valentina Lisitsa, because of her political commentary on social-media sites in support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra CEO Jeff Melanson said in a statement that "Lisitsa's provocative comments had overshadowed past performances."

He said the symphony has replaced her with another musician in April 8 and 9 performances.

Lisitsa said on Facebook on April 6 that the symphony had dropped her because she "exercised the right to free speech."

Paul Grod, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said Lisitsa calls the Ukrainian government "Nazi" and claims it sets up "filtration camps" for ethnic Russians.

Lisitsa, who was born in Kyiv in 1973, emigrated to the United States in 1991. She says her ethnic background is Russian and Polish.

Canada is home to some 1.25 million people of Ukrainian heritage and Ottawa has been a strong supporter of Ukraine's fight against Russian-backed rebels.

Based on reporting by,, and