A wave of protests accompanied Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko and conductor Valery Gergiev throughout the string of their North American performances. Both of them earned the ire of Western audiences for openly endorsing Vladimir Putin’s forcible annexation of Crimea and covert invasion of Ukraine. Gergiev signed the controversial “letter of support” for Putin’s aggression, while Netrebko fraternized with terrorist leader Oleg Tsarov, who was sanctioned by both the U.S. and the EU. Tsarov was sanctioned by the United States as a person who poses a threat to national security.
Executive order signed by President Barack Obama with respect to the sanctions stated that “the actions and policies of persons including persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” Netrebko could face U.S. sanctions for providing material support to Tsarov as a sanctioned individual, since the Presidential order specifically prohibits “the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.” The opera star owns residential properties and spends extensive time periods living in the United States.