Sochi Olympics: Protest ballet performance of Swan Lake and petition hand-in, Russian Embassy, London

Just over a week before the Winter Olympics start in Sochi, on Wednesday 29 January at 10am ballet dancers and Amnesty International activists will gather outside the Russian Embassy in London to demand President Putin ends his assault on freedom of expression and gay rights in Russia.

The dancers will be in full eye-catching costume and make up and will perform a scene from one of Russia’s best-loved ballets – Swan Lake - by one of its best-loved composers – Tchaikovsky, who was gay. The performance will be directed and choreographed by ex-Royal Ballet dancer Vanessa Fenton.

Amnesty activists will be holding placards and wearing T-shirts bearing the slogans ‘Stop the Crackdown’ and ‘Proud to Protest’. Three of the dancers will have the slogans scrawled on the costumes and one will have them on his bare torso.

After London 2012, the Russian government signed an agreement promising to adhere to the Olympic principles of non-discrimination, equality, inclusion, respect and mutual understanding, and to promote human rights during the Winter Olympics and beyond.

However, a number of laws brought in by Putin’s government since then do exactly the opposite. There has been a crackdown on freedom of speech and expression, gay rights are being trampled on and NGOs silenced.

After the performance, representatives from Amnesty UK will hand in a petition of over 10,000 signatures from the British public demanding an end to Putin’s crackdown on human rights.

An Amnesty spokesperson will be available for interview from the event.

What: Ballet protest ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, to demand an end to President Putin’s crackdown on human rights in Russia

Where: Outside the Russian Embassy on Bayswater Road, by the entrance to Kensington Palace Gardens. The postcode is W8 4QP.
Nearest tubes are Notting Hill Gate and Bayswater.

When: 10 – 10.30am on Wednesday 29 January. The performance will last five minutes. Dancers will be available for photographs during and after the performance. The petition hand-in will be at 10.30am.

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