The messenger logo

Firing famous director intensifies situation

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, August 23
The case of the firing of Artistic Director of the Shota Rustaveli Drama theatre Robert Sturua has further aggravated tension between the ruling power and its opponents. The claims that he was discharged for xenophobic comments have not been accepted by the opponents of the ruling administration. They see political incentive in the decision because Sturua was openly confronting the current Georgian leadership and criticizing many of its moves.

The Minister of culture Nika Rurua removed Robert Sturua from his position on August 9 saying that “the country which is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural wouldn’t tolerate xenophobia and will not finance it… I took the decision that the person who has such a system of values cannot be standing in a serious administrative position,” stated the Minister Rurua.

There were some more allegations against the director, for instance a representative of the ruling authorities MP Khatuna Ochiauri stated that the current period had not been successful for the Director. “The fact that in the 70s he produced some interesting plays doesn’t necessarily mean that the statements made in the beginning of the 21st century are adequate and wise.” Another argument against the Director Sturua was his pro-Russian position. This allegedly has been demonstrated by the fact that several Russian theatres have already offered Sturua a leading position.

Robert Sturua meanwhile has tried to justify his position, denying his xenophobic remarks. It should be said that sometimes Robert Sturua was rather critical in his remarks about the current administration and President Saakashvili himself. The philosopher Zaza Shatirishvili thinks that the confrontation between the ruling administration and Sturua started in approximately 2005 and after the August 2008 War it became more intense. So it was already clear that the authorities wouldn’t tolerate him in this position. Shatirishvili also thinks that this method of discharging different people will continue. Some analysts think that this is not only discharging a certain director from his position, for them this is confrontation between the existing culture and aesthetics and the new alternative aesthetics which the current administration is trying to implement.

Shatirishvili thinks that currently any steps in the sphere of culture in the country are measured according to a person's loyalty towards the ruling administration. His conclusions are very pessimistic as he thinks that culture has disappeared from Georgia today. Experts in law state that xenophobic expressions cannot be judicially punished unless they are promoting ethnic unrest. More and more independent analysts state that the discharge of the world famous director, even if his remarks could be deemed xenophobic, is not justified. Robert Sturua represents the symbol of Georgian arts, culture and creativity worldwide and his supporters think that this dismissal is a sad development for Georgia. This case discredits the Georgian state authorities rather than proves their principled position. As actress Tatuli Dolidze said “this is a loss for Georgia and its culture more than it is for the Director Sturua himself.”