Luxembourg cuts ties with honorary consul Valery Gergiev

Prime minister Xavier Bettel (l.) with Valery Gergiev at an event by EWUB in 2018. Vladimir Yevtushenkov is pictured behind Gergiev Marie De Decker 2018

Prime minister Xavier Bettel (l.) with Valery Gergiev at an event by EWUB in 2018. Vladimir Yevtushenkov is pictured behind Gergiev Marie De Decker 2018

Luxembourg has withdrawn the title of honorary consul from Russian conductor Valery Gergiev effective immediately and is reviewing the mandates of other officials, foreign minister Jean Asselborn has said.

Gergiev in 2009 was appointed honorary consul to St Petersburg under prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker (CSV). Other Russians with that title include steel magnate Viktor Rashnikov, businessman Roman Trotsenko and Vladimir Yevtushenkov, the owner of the Sistema conglomerate.

“From today, the mandate of the conductor Gergiev comes to an end,” Asselborn (LSAP) told parliament on Tuesday during a debate about the war in Ukraine.

Earlier this week, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra fired its chief conductor over his failure to denounce the invasion of Ukraine. Gergiev is considered a close friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin and in 2014 had signed an appeal supporting the annexation of Crimea.

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra is expected to cancel its annual Gergiev festival, which it has held since 1996. The conductor has been replaced at upcoming concerts in the US and numerous concert houses have cut ties, including the Scala in Milan, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, where Gergiev last performed in December.

Billionaire mandates under review

The mandates of the other honorary consults are subject to review, Asselborn said, adding that he would make a proposal to the government in the coming days.

The three remaining honorary consults are all Russian billionaires. They have so far not been targeted by international sanctions.

Maritime data shows that Rashnikov’s Ocean Victory megayacht is currently floating around the Maldives after leaving Dubai at the end of January. The oligarch is the majority owner of Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works.

Trostsenko owns investment company Aeon and is funding Arctic mining and infrastructure projects. The coal tycoon is developing the Indiga Seaport located on the Barents Sea, which could become a key transport hub on the Northeast Passage. Putin in January instructed his government to speed up plans for a rail link to the ice-free port.

Yevtushenkov meanwhile owns the Russian conglomerate Sistema. Ex-economy minister and deputy PM Etienne Schneider (LSAP) last week announced that he would be resigning from the company’s board of directors to which he was appointed in 2020.

Schneider had initially defended his presence on the board, saying it would help protect jobs and Luxembourg interests. East-West United Bank in the grand duchy is owned by Sistema. Another ex-economy minister, Jeannot Krecké, stepped down from his board position at EWUB.