This story broke in Lithuania shortly after the petition was made available, and now it is gaining much wider circulation. Seems the government is calling on Russia's cultural elite to back its annexation of Crimea, an action not seen since Soviet times. Many leading cultural figures signed the petition, some out of patriotism, like Valery Gergiev who considers the Ukraine "an essential part of our cultural space." Others out of fear of reprisals. Boris Akunin (pictured above) stands out as one of those who refused to sign the petition,
“It’s just that under Stalin, if a prominent cultural figure dared to protest he’d be shot; under Brezhnev he’d be imprisoned; now he just risks losing state donations and having to travel economy class — but this often proves enough. It’s a fascinating sight to watch people make this moral choice.”
When hearing of the petition, Lithuania's leading theater director, Eimuntas Nekrošius, and favorite of Russian theaters, cancelled a production in Moscow. He is famous for his reinterpretations of Shakespeare and has often worked with well known Russian actors on stage. It is really a shame to see this political divide splitting the cultural arts, as this has been one of the truly great interchanges between Russia and the world.
The worst part about the petition is that it appears to have been inflated much like the referendum in the Crimea, with several names printed without permission and at least one of those listed no longer alive. A very sad case of history repeating itself.