U.S. singer Selena Gomez cancels Russian concerts
By Liza Dobkina
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - U.S. pop singer Selena Gomez has scrapped two concerts in Russia after falling foul of new visa rules which critics say can be used to keep out Western artists who promote gay rights.
The concert organizers said the "Come and Get It" singer pulled out of the planned performances in St. Petersburg and Moscow next week when it became clear she would not be able to secure a visa in time.
They blamed the delay on the new rules, which they said were prompted by official concern over two concerts in Russia at which Madonna and Lady Gaga defended gay rights, and a gig in neighboring Ukraine where the lead singer of U.S. group Bloodhound Gang stuffed a Russian flag down his trousers.
"The situation is a result of the scandals over the Madonna, Lady Gaga and Bloodhound Gang concerts, after which the Russian authorities changed procedures for issuing visas to foreign musical and artistic groups," said the promoters, the Russian Entertainment Academy.
A representative for Gomez, 21, confirmed the Russia concerts were canceled but declined further comment.
Gomez, who has not taken a public stance on gay rights, has also come under pressure to denounce Russia's law prohibiting gay propaganda to minors. A U.S. petition started on the Change.org website has gained about 14,000 signatures.
Foreign artists can no longer receive visas by invitation from the Culture Ministry under the aegis of cultural links if they come to Russia to conduct commercial activity, according to state-run news agency RIA.
It said the procedures were changed following complaints from Vitaly Milonov, a St. Petersburg legislator who criticized Madonna and Lady Gaga and has campaigned against gay rights. Continued...