In a reminder to the world of its role in liberating the historic Syrian city of Palmyra from Islamic State, Russia's Mariinsky Theatre performs a surprise concert in the city's ancient amphitheater. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NATURAL (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Russia's Mariinsky Theatre staged a surprise concert in the amphitheatre of the Syrian city of Palmyra on Thursday (May 5), in what looked like an attempt by the Kremlin to win hearts and minds and remind the world of its role in the city's recapture. The concert, held just over a month after Russian air strikes helped push Islamic State militants out of Palmyra, saw Valery Gergiev, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin, conduct the Mariinsky orchestra. Sergei Roldugin, a cellist friend of Putin's, also performed. Putin, addressing the audience by video link from his Russian Black Sea residence of Sochi, called terrorism a contagion the world needed to rid itself of and said the fact the concert was taking place at all was "surprising". Gergiev, a longtime Putin supporter, described the concert as a protest against the barbarism and violence exhibited by Islamic State militants who had destroyed parts of Palmyra and used the city's Roman amphitheatre to execute prisoners. The event was made public just hours before it began. Russian and Syrian military personnel as well as locals could be seen in the audience. Russian special forces called in air strikes in March to help the Syrian government retake the city and Russian engineers later demined the historic part of Palmyra. Moscow has said its experts are ready to help restore the city, a UNESCO world heritage site.