Dutch justice minister resigns from Gergiev Festival board

Justice minister Ivo Opstelten has resigned from a controversial honorary position which he had failed to reveal to the cabinet, the Telegraaf reports on Thursday.

Until Wednesday, Opstelten was a member of the board of recommendation of the annual Gergiev Festival, a three-day festival of music performed by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Russian national Valery Gergiev.

Gergiev is a friend and major supporter of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin and a staunch defender of Kremlin policies including its position on gay rights and Ukraine, the Telegraaf points out.

‘It was a mistake. He (Opstelten) thought he had resigned from all his additional functions but this one was missed,’ a spokesman for the minister told the Telegraaf.

Opstelten became a member of the board in his previous role as mayor of Rotterdam. His name has now been removed from the festival website, the Telegraaf says.

According to the festival website, Rotterdam’s current mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb is still a member of the board of recommendation, as is Jan Franssen, the king’s commissioner for Zuid-Holland province, and the Russian ambassador to the Netherlands Roman Kolodkin.

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