By Francisco Salazar
Lithuanian tenor Kristian Benedikt is apologizing for his recent performance in Belarus.
The tenor, who was criticized for performing in Minsk, said he went to Belarus at the invitation of an evangelical bishop and took part in pre-Christmas events to support his friends suffering repressions of the Minsk regime.
He said, “I performed at a concert organized and directed by Oksana Volkova, my stage partner, a mezzo-soprano who has performed several times with the Kaunas Symphony Orchestra.”
He added, “My motive was to pay a pre-Christmas visit and to say with that visit that you are my friends, even if there’s the Lukashenko regime, even if there’s a risk I will be provoked if I go.”
Benedikt also added, that some of his friend’s pastors were imprisoned in Belarus and their church buildings were seized. “Why would I disown them? Why would I turn my back on them? Belarus is full of people just like us who want freedom.”
Benedikt also clarified that there was no one from Lukashenko regime in the concert.
The statement comes after many public figures and politicians, including Culture Minister Simonas Kairys condemned the tenor’s participation in a concert at the National Opera of Belearus.
The Culture Minister said, “I am shocked, to put it simply. Indeed, such choices are incomprehensible to my common sense. The question is, in principle, what is going on in a person’s mind to make such choices? Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that such well-known personalities would travel to Minsk to perform.”
The Minister added that while Benedikt did not break laws, his choice to perform in Belarus was morally unacceptable.
Jonas Sakalauskas, General Director of Lithuania Opera and Ballet Theatre added, “So long as I am director, Benedikt will not sing here…This act is a betrayal of Lithuania.”
The tenor has vowed not to perform in Russia and has supported Ukraine with prayers and regular donations.
Belarus has been an ally of Russia throughout the war helping the Russian government with arms and training the Russian army.