The Royal Albert Hall, the most prestigious concert hall in London, is now closed to Russian artists. Andrey Sidelnikov, a political emigre from Russia and the coordinator of the “Speak Louder!” Movement shared this sentiment in an interview with Krym.Realii.
"In the aftermath of the Valeria concert, the best and most important concert hall in London is now closed to Russian artists—all of them.[The owners] no longer want to deal with Russian artists. Reputation in the UK is very expensive," Sidelnikov said.
In 2014 the Royal Albert Hall held a concert by Russian singer Alla Perfilova, better known as “Valeria.” She and her colleagues performed in London but the concert was plagued with numerous protests due to her controversial praise for the Russian government and public support for the annexation of Crimea. According to Sidelnikov "there was big money involved" so the concert pushed through. As a result, the public image of the Royal Albert Hall was badly damaged.
This concert hall is also closed for those Russian artists who are "not on the best terms with the authorities," said Sidelnikov.
"London is not closed for them, they are always welcome and we look forward to concerts, ready to help with the organization of various events, find alternative concert sites. But the current situation is such that because of the previously mentioned scandal the leadership of Albert Hall decided they would no longer cooperate with Russian performers in coming years. And political overtones or opinions don't matter, they just decided so," he stressed.
In October 2014, activists picketed the concert hall and called on the UK government and the leadership of the venue to refuse the singer entry into the country and to cancel the concert. This was all due to the fact that Valeria and equally prominent singer Iosif Kobzon "openly support terrorist organizations such as the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic, against which the European Union has imposed sanctions."
Activists sent a petition addressed to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office demanding that they refuse to grant visas to the artists. The petition was signed by more than 4,000 people. Nonetheless the concert still took place. Only the performances of Kobzon and Valeria's son were canceled.
According to official reports, Kobzon was unable to fly to London because of health problems, though the picket organizers claim that the author of the DPR hymn was worried about potential problems crossing the border.