Putin’s wax statue, ‘The Batman’ movie and Green Day show are pulled as cultural groups boycott Russia over Ukraine invasion

March 1, 2022, 1:13 PM UTC
Updated March 3, 2022, 12:47 PM UTC

Russia is being cut from the international cultural circuit just as the fading of COVID-19 in much of the world hails the return of concerts, sports events, film releases, and other outings.

Countries and companies are canceling events planned across Russia in response to the Ukraine invasion, not only cutting the country off from visiting art, football, music, and film events, but also from the tourism and broadcast dollars that come along with hosting them.

The first cultural movers were Europe’s governing football body, UEFA, which relocated the May 28 Champions League final from Russia to Paris, shortly followed by the European Broadcasting Union barring Russia from competing in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Since then a flood of other events have been canceled in a move to culturally sanction Russia over its attack on its smaller neighbor.

The Paralympics

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) reversed its original decision and has banned paralympic athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing.

After multiple teams and athletes threatened to not compete and “the situation in the athlete villages” escalated, ensuring the safety of athletes became “untenable,” according to the IPC.

The event organizers said in a statement, “in order to preserve the integrity of these Games and the safety of all participants, we have decided to refuse the athlete entries from Russian Paralympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee Belarus.”

Wax Statues

The director of the Grevin Museum removed a wax statue of Vladimir Putin from the Paris museum in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “We have never represented dictators like Hitler in the Grevin Museum, we don’t want to represent Putin today.”

“It’s the first time at the Grevin Museum that a statue has been removed in this way, so quickly,” Yves Delhommeau said as he removed Putin’s head from the rest of the figure on camera.

Movies

Warner Bros., [hotlink]Disney,[/hotlink] and Sony have all halted new releases of films which were about to open in Russian cinemas.

WarnerMedia paused its highly anticipated superhero film The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz, which would have started showing this Friday in Russia. Warner Bros. wrote in a statement, “WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”

Disney meanwhile cut the premiere of Turning Red, a family film about a girl who turns into a red panda, which had originally been set to premiere in Russia on March 10. Sony also has halted the release of Morbius, a Marvel antihero film starring Jared Leto, which was set to open on March 24.

Music

The first major European music event from which Russia has been excluded is the Eurovision Song Contest. The European Broadcasting Union barred Russia from participating in this year’s Eurovision on Friday, noting that the event promoted “international exchange and understanding” and that Russia’s inclusion could bring the annual competition into disrepute.

Since then, a number of major musical artists including Green Day, Eric Clapton, Imagine Dragons, and the Pixies have all canceled upcoming shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg. One of Russia’s most popular rap artists, Oxxxymiron, also canceled several sold-out shows in Russia in support of Ukraine. 

Overseas, Russian classical musicians have had to leave their posts. At New York’s Carnegie Hall, Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, who was scheduled to lead the Vienna Philharmonic, as well as Russian pianist Denis Matsuev, were both cut from their positions. They have both previously endorsed Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, according to The Guardian.

Ballet

Ballet as a Russian cultural export is also being cut off. London’s Royal Opera House canceled the planned residency of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, one of the oldest and most prestigious ballet companies in the world, from July 26 to Aug. 14.

“A summer season of the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House had been in the final stages of planning,” the Royal Opera House said, adding, “Unfortunately, under the current circumstances, the season cannot now go ahead.”

Performances by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia have also been canceled across the U.K., and the Helix theater in Dublin canceled a performance of Swan Lake by the Royal Moscow Ballet.

The Olympics

U.S. Olympic chiefs today threw their support behind International Olympic Committee calls to bar Russian athletes from participating in international competition.

The IOC recommended on Monday that “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants,” the International Sports Federations and sports event organizers should not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.

It added that if Russian and Belarusian athletes were able to participate, athletes from Ukraine would be prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country, noting it gives the recommendation “with a heavy heart.”

Ice hockey

In a move that deviates from any Cold War similarities and the 2004 sport drama movie Miracle, the International Ice Hockey Federation forbade the Russian and Belarusian teams from participating at its competitions, including this year’s world championships. The National Hockey League in the U.S. also suspended its business dealings in Russia.

The Czech Republic, Finland, and Sweden announced on Monday that Russia would not be allowed to participate in this year’s Euro Hockey Tour, a series of mid-season hockey tournaments, and the International Ice Hockey Federation signaled that they were looking to replace Russia permanently.

Formula 1

Formula 1 organizers on Friday said it was “impossible” to hold this year’s Russian Grand Prix race “in the current circumstances.” The decision came after champion drivers Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, and Fernando Alonso all pushed back against participating in the competition.

“When a country is at war, it is not right to race there,” said Verstappen. “I will not go. I think it’s wrong to race in that country,” said Vettel.

In a joint statement released Friday, Formula 1, with motoring rules authority FIA and the F1 teams, said, “We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock, and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution.”

Soccer

The two most powerful bodies in football, FIFA and UEFA, suspended Russian soccer teams from international competition on Friday, meaning the Russian national soccer team will be unable to compete for a qualification for this winter’s World Cup. “FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice,” the two football associations wrote in a joint statement.

Additionally, a number of football clubs have dropped Russian sponsors. English football club Manchester United booted Russian airline Aeroflot as a sponsor, while German football club Schalke ended its partnership with Gazprom.

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.