KAUNAS – Private event organizers should take more responsibility when inviting performers of controversial reputation to Lithuania, Culture Minister Simonas Kairys said on Monday.
"I think private event organizers should assume more responsibility," he told reporters, commenting on a planned Lithuanian tour of Svitlana Loboda, a Ukrainian pop singer with a career in Russia.
"Let me remind you of the case of Latvia, where it was not the state, but the organizer or the venue that removed this artist from the program," Kairys said.
"I believe this is how civil society should act and react, without involving the authorities, because when you involve the authorities, legal issues start to dominate, rather than moral ones."
With the war in Ukraine ongoing, there will always be a risk to the reputation of any performer who has performed in Russia, according to the minister.
"That risk will remain as long as the war continues, regardless of nationality, of who said what before or after the war, and of whether or not they have performed in Crimea," he said.
"On Friday, we once again sent out recommendations to private organizers to always assess that risk and to try not to involve either the state or state institutions in such ambiguous situations again."
Loboda was scheduled to perform in Siauliai, Panevezys, Klaipeda and Vilnius this week, but almost all of the concerts have been cancelled, except for the one in the capital which has been moved to another venue.
The organizers did so after the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said it was considering adding the singer to Lithuania's list of unwanted persons.
Loboda came onto the ministry's radar because of her concerts in Russia in the wake of Moscow's occupation of Crimea in 2014, including her performance at an event celebrating the Soviet Union's victory in World War Two in 2015.
However, Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas said later that the ministry had found no legal grounds to blacklist Loboda.
The singer was removed from the list of unwanted persons in Ukraine in March, which also had an impact on Lithuania's decision, according to him.
Lithuania has blacklisted Russian performers Khabib Sharipov, Natasha Korolyova, Oleg Gazmanov, Grigory Lepsveridze and Philip Kirkorov due to their support of the Kremlin's aggressive policy.