SALISBURY, October 14. /TASS/. A concert of Russian classical music, titled ‘From Russia with Love’ was held on Saturday in the UK city of Salisbury, which made headlines worldwide following the poisoning incident involving Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Despite the ambiguous name, which is a reference to the eponymous James Bond spy novel by Ian Fleming, organizers of the event stressed that it has nothing to do with politics.
“We are embarrassed that people tried to use that as a mean to make a story that really doesn’t exist. And if it has offended people I would be very upset. We didn’t set out to offend people. We are musicians. Music is music, certainly not politics,” one of the concert’s organizers, pianist Nicholas Woods, told TASS.
“We always give our concert a title and often they are so airy fairy, so that you know Shakespeare with love and all that sort of things, there is no story,” he added.
According to Woods, the title of the concert was invented about a year ago, long before the tragic events in Salisbury brought relations between Moscow and London to record low, comparable only to the Cold War period.
Several Russian-speaking families were among those who visited the concert at the Church of St. Martin in Salisbury. Tatyana, who ha been living in the United Kingdom for more than 15 years, said that the name and idea of the concert sounded very positive to her.
“I think that in the light of the events that took place in Salisbury, this [concert] is a very good and positive thing,” she said.
The concert included fragments from Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky, Tarantella by Aleksandr Borodin, as well as works by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Between the first and the second act, tea with milk and cake were served to all visitors.
According to the British version of the affair, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered the effects of a nerve agent in Salisbury on March 4. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such an agent.
The United Kingdom requested technical assistance from the OPCW to identify the agent that had been used in Salisbury. In their report issued on April 12, OPCW experts noted that it was a high purity substance but said nothing about its origin.