Mikhail Baryshnikov on criticizing Vladimir Putin: “I will be 75 years old. What have I to lose?”

World-renowned ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov made international headlines when he defected from the Soviet Union in 1974. He has remained largely non-political ever since. Now, Baryshnikov tells Anthony Mason in an interview for “CBS Sunday Morning,” that he can no longer stay silent about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The interview will be broadcast June 19 on CBS and streamed on Paramount+.

“I couldn’t stay silent this time,” Baryshnikov said. “I was born in Soviet – at that time Soviet Latvia – in a family of a military officer.”

Recently, Baryshnikov co-founded True Russia, a charity to raise money for Ukrainian refugees. When Russia banned its website, Baryshnikov wrote an open letter to President Vladimir Putin. He wrote that Putin’s Russian world – the world of fear – would “die from its own horror unless it wakes up.”

Below is an excerpt from Mason’s interview with Baryshnikov. To watch a preview, click on the video player:

Mikhail Baryshnikov: Putin “does not care about people at all”


MASON: What did you think when Putin said Russians who support the West are ‘scum and treats’?

BARYSHNIKOV: You know, this is disgusting.

MASON: Do you think of this as Russia’s war? But Putin’s war?

BARYSHNIKOV: It is Putin’s war. … He’s trying to create a new history of Russia. … He does not care about people at all … although how it’s possible, he has kids himself, you know? How is it possible?

MASON: Russians who speak out against him have a way of kind of disappearing.

BARYSHNIKOV: Listen, I will be 75 years old. What have I to lose?

Baryshnikov also talks with Mason about the new production of “The Orchard” – his work at the New York center that bears his name – and more.

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