Pianist Vestards Šimkus: The government's promises turned out to be stone-cold lies

"I'm still waiting for people not to be sorted and discriminated against just because they choose not to voluntarily inject something into their body that is not and cannot be mandatory, because it is experimental," the great pianist Vestards Šimkus addressed the audience at the beginning of his concert. This sentence caused, as it is now said, a shitstorm for the musician.
14.07.2021. Elita Veidemane
©Oksana Džadana/ F64

But it was not this peaceful text that made me pause. Waves of hope and unanswered questions wash over us daily, there are no concrete answers to the questions, there are only empty words, which are presented as in-depth opinions by the "leaders" of our country.

And why should these "leaders" answer some questions if, firstly, they do not know the answers, and secondly, they are not going to look for them either. There is only one goal: to cultivate fear.

Doctor Pēteris Apinis wrote in his publication: “Regarding the Ministry of Health, just like doctors they are subject to the principle: primum non nocere (first, do no harm). The main professional duty of doctors and also of the Minister is to avoid further harm to patients by taking action against them. Pavļuts violates this duty, and his statements incite irrational and extreme fears beyond any information content present in them. His statements cause serious psychological and, secondarily, somatic damage to many people. The government's policy of fear has resulted in neglected diseases, chronic diseases, neglected care for one's health and missed strengthening of immunity."

It remains to be seen why this goal - the sowing of fear - has been chosen. There are reasonable suspicions that it is in the name of European funding. But it also cannot be infinite. Even more reasonable is the suspicion of using the ancient Roman principle of "divide and rule" - to divide society to make it easier to govern. And society has never been more divided.

Here is what Vestards Šimkus said before the concert. "I'm still waiting for people not to be sorted and discriminated against just because they choose not to voluntarily inject something into their body that is not and cannot be mandatory, because it is experimental. History, especially the history that tells us about the 20th century, has shown us perfectly how the ideas of sorting people end, such as things like voluntary yet mandatory actions. Historical parallels are unambiguous (..), history is a chain of different events, separated by time. These events are always related. And historical kinship, historical parallels will also be the central theme of this concert. Because this concert will feature music from different eras and composers, with the help of which I will try to emphasize what unites these times and composers, not separates them from each other.”

If anyone can find any nuance in Vestards' speech that would indicate that he is agitating people not to be vaccinated - then please, do tell. There are only hopes and unanswered questions in Vestards' speech - as I said before. And he can and may express his opinion on today's current events, which have lasted for more than a year, everywhere - even in his concert. Just like dozens (maybe even hundreds) of other musicians, for whom the stage is a platform for expression not only in the language of music. As one tweeter laughed: "Why shouldn't pianist Šimkus express his opinion in the same way as pianist Pavļuts?"

It would be nice if it was just laughing. But there are also cynical outbursts of hatred. For example, one activist wrote: "I hope that those like-minded people of Šimkus who are dying from Covid at a time when their lives could be saved by vaccination are now laid to rest with Šimkus' music." What is this? A call to eliminate an entire group of "dissenters"? Or is it "only" an indication that Vestards Šimkus is "to blame for everything"?

Another snowflake shed tears of indignation, crying that after "such words from Vestards Šimkus" she would have gotten up and left the hall. I think that all those who remained in the hall would have only been happy if such an unhappy creature no longer sat among them, for whom Vestards Šimkus' piano playing would have remained unenjoyable because of one sentence he said.

It is only surprising that the snowflake has not gotten up to leave when another pianist - Health Minister Pavļuts - tells how in the autumn Covid will kill the old people while doing nothing to close the borders with Russia, from which the river of thousands of infected people flows...

Here's what Vestards Šimkus told us after the storm on social networks.

What are your thoughts on the storm of negativity that has befallen you on social media after you expressed your views on forced vaccination and discrimination against people?

I had anticipated such a reaction, of course. Crowd attacks on different points of view have taken place in the past, and I did not think that I would manage without them. So, nothing surprises me about this situation. And yet it is a great pleasure to receive a huge wave of support from people who think like me. Knowing how many people have been vaccinated and what the general mood is, I understand that there are a lot of people on my side. However, this part of society is almost inaudible in public space.

After a break of several months, I had the opportunity to perform, and it coincided with a time when some "conspiracy theory" came true again, and I could not remain silent at that moment. I was very sad about what was happening in society and my meeting with the audience was darkened by it. Many who wanted to hear me could not do so because they had voluntarily chosen not to be vaccinated and were therefore discriminated against.

What do you think: if at the very beginning of the vaccination the government and all those responsible for this process had acted differently - logically, honestly, encouragingly - would the situation be different now?

I am concerned about the views expressed by my opponents that the talk of compulsory vaccination began precisely because many people do not want to be vaccinated. Like, if you don't get vaccinated, then we will force you - you can only blame yourself! Apparently, people have no idea what "voluntary" means. All this is similar to what was happening in Soviet times. Until recently, government officials promised that people would not be discriminated against, not even considering being fired... They turned out to be stone-cold lies. But I am one of those who do not forget that I have been lied to.

Do you regret what you said at the concert?

No, not for a moment! I would say it again. If I regretted what I said, I would be ashamed of myself. And I would be even more ashamed if I hadn't said that.

Have you been vaccinated yourself? Of course, this is a private question, you may refuse to answer it.

I think everything is clear from what I said... And I'm a little surprised that some people have misunderstood my speech at the beginning of the concert: that I allegedly called the vaccinated people fools. Well, of course not! I have not said a word about vaccinated people. I repeat: I defend the right of people to choose freely whether or not to be vaccinated. But all people - both vaccinated and non-vaccinated - deserve to go to a concert - any concert.


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