Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited author JK Rowling to accuse the West of “trying to cancel” his nation. The Russian president said the Harry Potter author was cancelled “just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights”.
The president damned the West’s campaign against Russian composers including Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff, the Russian president added in a bizarre rant during a televised meeting with cultural figures.
A number of events involving Russian cultural figures who have expressed backing for the war have been called off, including concerts by the award-winning Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, a friend and supporter of Putin, who was part of the meeting on Friday.
Some events involving dead Russian cultural figures have also been abandoned, with the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra removing the Russian composer Tchaikovsky from its programme, a decision that was widely criticised by western cultural figures.
Putin was apparently referring in part to the cancellation of events involving Russian music in some Western countries since his invasion of Ukraine. “Today they are trying to cancel a whole thousand-year culture — our people,” Putin said, “They are banning Russian writers and books.”
Putin said, “They are now trying to cancel our country. I’m talking about the progressive discrimination of everything to do with Russia.” He went on to liken “cancel culture” to Nazis trying to burn books in the 1930s. “We remember the footage when they were burning books,” he said.
“It is impossible to imagine such a thing in our country and we are insured against this thanks to our culture.
“And it’s inseparable for us from our motherland, from Russia, where there is no place for ethnic intolerance, where for centuries representatives from dozens of ethnic groups have been living together,” Putin said.
Rowling had said in a long essay that she was concerned about “the new trans activism… pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender”. She recently accused Sir Keir Starmer of misrepresenting equalities law – after the Labour leader said that according to statute “trans women are women”.
Part of a backlash against her views has included a secondary school dropping her name as a title for one of its houses over her “comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people”.
But the Harry Potter creator was not impressed. Rowling said that “critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians“.
Rowling also referenced an article about jailed anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, and hit out at the Russian president for “jailing and poisoning critics”.