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Is There an Iron Curtain Coming for Performers?

By Lucas Grindley

A Russian concert promoter who has brought the likes of Lady Gaga and Madonna to his country — only to have them speak out against antigay laws there — is asking Vladimir Putin for a compromise that lets big acts continue performing.

The Guardian reports that Yevgeny Finkelshtein, president of PMI, wrote to Putin this week along with a list of 27 other industry figures and called for a new kind of visa for foreign artists. The new visa would eliminate the loophole that lets stars be selectively prosecuted.

The request comes after Lady Gaga and Madonna used their massive concerts as a stage for promoting LBGT rights. Local authorities attempted to prosecute them under the country's so-called "propaganda" law, which bans any talk of gay people while in the presence of minors. The attempt failed with the judiciary. So instead the performers were prosecuted under a technicality in their visas.

If Putin doesn't change the rules, Finkelshtein told The Guardian it will "inevitably lead to the country's isolation from world culture."

For her part, Gaga has basically dared Russian authorities to arrest her.

"Sending bravery to LGBTs in Russia," she wrote on Facebook and Twitter earlier this month in response to the attacks on her visa. "The rise in government abuse is archaic. Hosing teenagers with pepper spray? Beatings? Mother Russia? The Russian government is criminal. Oppression will be met with revolution. Russian LGBTs you are not alone. We will fight for your freedom. Why didn't you arrest me when you had the chance, Russia? Because you didn't want answer to the world?"

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