The campaign in Sweden against pianist Valentina Lisitsa. Statement by Swedish Doctors for Human Rights

SWEDHR Research & Reports. Vol 2., N° 34, 27 October 2015

[Go to the updated analysis: Facts and libel in the international campaign VS. Valentina Lisitsa]

Which forces are  behind the “Swedish” campaign  against the performance in Norrköping by world-known artist Valentina Lisitsa? On the one hand Twitter time-lines indicate that this campaign is supported by the very same people who Valentina Lisitsa has criticized for what she says are serious breaches on the human rights of the Donbass population (See SWEDHR statement below). On the other hand SWEDHR has got confirmation via email where it is acknowledged that “We have been writing from Canada and US to the Swedish orchestra for few months now.” In this debate have also participated a local politician in Norrköping. From our human-rights perspective, the ultimate issue at stake is whether in Sweden freedom of speech is also extended to the criticism of oppressed governments staunchly supported by Sweden. Or in the words of the SWEDHR Chairman, When a single breach by the authorities to an individual’s freedom of speech takes place, the principle freedom of speech for all ceases to exist“. / Dr Armando Popa, editor of SWEDHR Research & Reports

valentina lisistsa - SWEDHR, If freedom of speech shall prevail in Sweden

Valentina Lisitsa. SWEDHR text on photo by RW Media Relations. Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten 19/01/2015

Statement by Swedish Doctors for Human Rights

The issue of Valentina Lisitsa’s upcoming concert in Norrköping has been raised in several articles in Norrköpings Tidningar (NT). Recently, a spokesperson from the organization “Young Ukrainians in Sweden” put forward in NT his opposition to the pianist’s scheduled performance in Sweden of her Beethoven’s Piano Concerto.

It certainly is not strange that a Swedish newspaper gives space to a protest like this. Everyone has the right in Sweden to express his or her opinion – what is call in Sweden, “Yttrandefrihet” (freedom of expression).

Conversely, what it is extremely odd is that “Young Ukrainians in Sweden” utters that they oppose precisely Valentina’s right to express her opinions. Even stranger, to our knowledge, Valentina Lisitsa – which has given concerts in Sweden in several occasions, latest at her debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – has not even mentioned the Ukrainian conflict in connection with these accusations during her visits to Sweden.

valentina-on-AZOV2For Valentina Lisitsa is not just world famous for her artistic talents; she is also known for her strong condemnation of the perpetrations against human rights in Ukraine. Especially international attention Her statement in an interview for Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten this year has deserved particular attention. There, Valentina Lisitsa declared that “members of Azov battalion can be as brutal as IS” and therefore “they are not ordinary Ukrainians.” [1]

And maybe just there is to be found the origin of this irritation against the Ukrainian-American Human-Rights’ advocate Valentina Lisitsa:

Paul Olavi Kuivanen writes in his article in NT 15/10 that the organization Young Ukrainians in Sweden does not rule out demonstrations against Valentina Lisitsa. The author quotes spokesperson Andriy Kachur: “Within at Young Ukrainians in Sweden, we plan nothing, but it may happen that it will come people from outside who want to make a point.”[2]

A former member of the Swedish Army, Mikael Skillt, now a recognized sniper in the above-mentioned Azov battalion, and who according to BBC “in fact his [political] views are typical of a neo-Nazi” [3] was asked recently in Twitter, “What do you mean she [Lisistsa] is not welcome in ‘my country’?” Mikael Skillt replied: ”Exactly that, and I just deciding if I should go to Sweden to stir something together.” [4]

Swedish Doctors for Human Rights has previously documented human rights violations in Ukraine, in particular the alleged war crimes such as the bombardment of several hospitals in Donbass, or the aerial raids against civilians in Lugansk.

Sweden is not supposed to be a Ukraine; a country whose government has silenced oppositional press and forbidden inconvenient political parties with earlier representation in the Ukrainian parliament. Shall freedom of speech prevail in Sweden for criticism of human rights violations in Ukraine?

Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli PhD, Chairman

Professor Anders Romelsjö PhD, Vice Chairman

Professor Marita Troye-Blomberg,

Dr Ove Johansson, and

Dr Lena Oske, from SWEDHR Board of Directors.

Dr Leif Elinder, senior member of SWEDHR

Dr Armando Popa, editor SWEDHR Research & Reports

Swedish Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR)

[A Swedish version of the statement above was submitted 27/10/15 for publication in Norrköpings Tidningar (NT), but the newspaper has so far abstain to reply]


[1] ”Star-Pianistin Lisitsa: „Es gibt Pläne für einen großen Ausverkauf der Ukraine“. Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, 19/01 2015

[2] Paul Olavi Kuivanens, ”Starka reaktioner inför konsert”. NT Kultur, 22/19 2015

[3] Dina Newman, BBC News, ” Ukraine conflict: ‘White power’ warrior from Sweden”, 16/7 2014.

[4] Twitter, 23/10 2015

Felix Gustafsson (@UpcomingFront): What do you mean with “She isn’t welcome in MY COUNTRY”?

Mikael Skillt (@MikaelSkillt): Exactly that, and I just deciding if I should go to Sweden to stir something together

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