Protest at the Edmonds Center for the Arts during a comedy show in Russian

A number of people protested outside the Edmonds Center for the Arts during a Russian-language performance by Nurlan Saburov on Sunday April 10.

According to the ECA, “Saburov is well known for his sarcastic observational humor which he also exhibits as the host of one of the most popular comedy shows, ‘What Happened Next?’ on Youtube.

“Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA) has consistently hosted arts and entertainment events for the Russian and Ukrainian communities of the Pacific Northwest since we opened our doors in 2006,” said Liz Dawson, Chief Marketing Officer of the ECA.

“We are heartbroken as we continue to witness Putin’s senseless and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the horrific atrocities and destruction it has wreaked on the people of Ukraine, including our partners and Ukrainian friends in this community.

“By allowing the rental event with Nurlan Saburov to take place on the ECA stage on Sunday, April 10, we do not condone or support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. This rental event was contracted a more than two years, and we did not have the legal status to cancel it. We were contractually obligated to allow the event to go ahead, and although we requested that they consider it, the promoter did not was unable to reschedule or cancel the event at this time.

The following is a statement CEA received from the event promoter:

“Our company, The Reunion Parties, based in Los Angeles, has been organizing concerts and events for 20 years. We have brought in artists and performers from all over the world: Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, etc. Our organization does not has never been affiliated with politics, and our mission is to organize events and shows.Several members of our team (including myself) are originally from Ukraine and have family and friends there.We have personally been affected mentally and emotionally by this conflict, like many others.

As a company, we do not support the war in Ukraine and will use some of the proceeds from this event to help humanitarian organizations in Ukraine, as we have done for other organizations over the years.

Shawn Austin

“Nurlan Saburov is a stand-up comedian, and his content is not, and never has been, political. He is a citizen of Kazakhstan, not Russia. He does not have a Russian passport. He was paid for American broadcasts in Kazakhstan, and will pay taxes in Kazakhstan. He has a US work visa to perform in the United States. Nurlan Saburov has performed in over 20 countries around the world, including the Ukraine.

“Nurlan is not active on social media, and wasn’t even active before the conflict started. His last post on social media was in 2021. Nurlan Saburov has no association with the Ukrainian conflict – he is just a stand-up comedian from another country who is not involved in this dispute.He was unjustly targeted due to unsubstantiated misinformation.

Dawson shared a statement from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals.

Sylvester L. Goldfarb