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Can A Delusional Millionaire Buy His Way To Maestro Status?

An Armenian-born American businessman has been paying to book Europe's finest concert halls so he and his orchestra can play for tiny, unimpressed audiences. Who is this mystery man?

Ashot Tigranyan, conductor and violonist
Ashot Tigranyan, conductor and violonist
Konstantin Richter

LEEDS — After just 15 minutes, the California businessman-turned-conductor offered his first off-program selection to the audience. He and his orchestra had just finished the first program selection — Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto in A Minor. He peered out into the virtually empty hall, where an audience of some 80 were seated in a space meant for 1,000, nodded at the smattering of applause, then said in festive tones: “We’d now like to play something for you that’s not on the program — Bach’s Air On G String.”

The entrepreneur dabbed at the perspiration on his forehead with a white handkerchief, then lifted his violin and began to play. After the Bach piece, he moved on to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Concerto in A Major and Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. After that came Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor and Edward Elgar’s Salut d’Amour, followed by Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The "Corrosion" Strategy: How Ukraine Targets Russian Networks And Morale

Russia continues to shrink its ambitions in Donbas, as Ukraine doubles down on its strategy of guerilla attacks, interrupting supply and communication contacts and ultimately undermines the morale of the enemy.

Ukrainian soldiers sitting atop a tank in Donbas on May 22

Clemens Wergin

For years to come, military experts will be studying how Ukraine managed to push back a far stronger enemy and grind Russia’s major offensive in the east of the country to a halt.

Some military strategists are already trying to find a term to sum up the Ukrainians’ success. Australian military expert and retired army major general Mick Ryan credited Kyiv's stunning showing to "the adoption of a simple military strategy: corrosion. The Ukrainian approach has embraced the corrosion of the Russian physical, moral, and intellectual capacity to fight and win in Ukraine.”

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Ryan argues that while the Ukrainians have used the firepower they possess to halt the Russian advance, while aggressively targeting their enemy’s greatest shortcoming. “They have attacked the weakest physical support systems of an army in the field – communications networks, logistic supply routes, rear areas, artillery and senior commanders in their command posts,” Ryan wrote.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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