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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Poles shun Bolshoi over 'slight'
Polish veterans of World War II in Wroclaw, Poland, this week
Polish troops fought both under Western and Soviet command
Russia's famed Bolshoi Ballet has cut short a tour of Poland after tensions with Moscow boiled over into a boycott of its performances by local fans.

Mass ticket cancellations followed protests at the absence of a mention of Poland's war role at the WWII 60th anniversary victory parade in Moscow.

But President Aleksander Kwasniewski played down reports that Polish veterans had been slighted.

A Polish impresario for the Bolshoi said the boycott was "scandalous".

There is no reason to think that Poland and Polish veterans were presented badly or falsely
Aleksander Kwasniewski

"It is scandalous to mix politics and art," Cezary Szyjko told AFP news agency.

Tour organiser Wojciech Wojtanowski told Reuters news agency that six of the remaining 15 shows had been cancelled.

"Ticket sales dropped faster and faster as the date of the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow approached," he said.

"Even though Poles love the Bolshoi Theatre, they decided to boycott the show."

'Other nations'

Polish opposition politicians had criticised President Kwasniewski for attending Monday's events in Moscow, which were attended by about 50 national leaders.

Correspondents say their indignation grew even further when Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to mention by name Polish forces, who fought on different fronts throughout the war.

In his speech on Red Square, Mr Putin mentioned the US, UK and France, and then referred to "other nations of the anti-Hitler coalition and German and Italian anti-fascists".

Returning to Warsaw, Mr Kwasniewski told reporters there was "no reason to think that Poland and Polish veterans were presented badly or falsely" in Moscow.

Ties with Russia, he said, had been strained by "Poland's and the European Union's involvement in solving the Ukrainian [election] crisis" last year.

Calling for the "best possible relations" with Moscow, he warned against "irresponsible statements or actions".


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