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Kharkiv Eparchy bans «Art of Tolerance” concert


The “Art of Tolerance” project is an important element in the Kharkiv Human Rights Group’s work. It includes both research into intolerance in Ukraine towards various vulnerable groups; monitoring of hate-related crimes; fighting discrimination; defence of victims of discrimination; and “Art of Tolerance” music festivals with the involvement of different ethnic bands playing global music. The festival, with high-class jazz, has already taken place a number of times in Ukraine and abroad.

Now suddenly the concern scheduled for Friday in Kharkiv has had to be moved at the last minute to a location with less places than the number of tickets already sold. .

The concert was planned for the Kharkiv Philharmonia and everything seemed to be going according to plan.  It then transpired, however, that renovation work on the Philharmonia building had begun and the concert needed to be moved to the Organ Hall which is located in Uspensky Cathedral.  This is owned by the Kharkiv Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who, learning that jazz was to be played in the Organ Hall,  simply banned the concert.

The cancellation is disturbingly strange. The musicians taking part in the concert have already played in a synagogue, a Catholic cathedral, a Dominican cathedral without any problems arising.  Yet the Orthodox Church doesn’t want to hear of a jazz concert.  Yevhen Zakharov, head of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, says that the people who could ban this Art of Tolerance concert seem to have some kind of fossilized mentality from the 1950s “Today he’s playing jazz, tomorrow he’ll sell out his country”. Such a ban is pure bigotry, he says. 

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