: AFP: Russian maestro to hold concert in Palmyra's theatre

15:10 May. 5, 2016

AFP: Russian maestro to hold concert in Palmyra's theatre

Russian flag and Russian engineering troops flag on a site of the ancient ruins in Palmyra, Syria, Friday, April 8, 2016 (AP Photo)

Valery Gergiev, who is known for his strongly pro-Kremlin views, will perform in UNESCO world heritage site

Russian maestro Valery Gergiev on Thursday will conduct his orchestra in the ancient theatre of Syria's ravaged Palmyra, only weeks after it was recaptured from the Islamic State's grip.

Read also 'I believe in Ukraine, that's why I am here' - Russian-born conductor and cellist

The concert will bring music to the ancient site that IS notoriously used to hold public executions after it overran Palmyra last year.

The Mariinsky orchestra will give the concert at 1400 GMT, the Mariinsky theatre in Saint Petersburg, where Gergiev is director, said in a statement.

The orchestra "will give a concert 'Praying for Palmyra. Music brings ancient walls alive' on the site of the world-famous amphitheatre of Palmyra in Syria," it said.

Read also Russia provides Syria with weapons produced in separatist-held town – Ukrainian intel

Syrian troops backed by Russian air strikes and special forces on the ground recaptured UNESCO world heritage site Palmyra from Islamic State group fighters in late March, delivering a major propaganda coup for both Damascus and Moscow.

Russian army sappers said last month that they had demined the ancient site -- known as the "Pearl of the Desert" -- where jihadist fighters blew up ancient temples and looted relics.

Gergiev is one of the world's best known conductors but has faced some criticism in the West for his strongly pro-Kremlin views, with his tours sometimes interrupted by protestors.

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