Madonna violated visa norms - Foreign Ministry

Madonna failed to obtain a work permit that would have allowed her to give a commercial performance. Source: ITAR-TASS

Madonna failed to obtain a work permit that would have allowed her to give a commercial performance. Source: ITAR-TASS

The American pop icon may find it difficult to get a Russian visa in the future.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has ruled that Madonna’s visa did not allow her to give a commercial performance in Moscow and St Petersburg last August, backing a lawmaker’s claim that her concert constituted “illegal commercial activity,” which may hamper her efforts to get a visa in the future, Izvestia reported on Tuesday.

The Foreign Ministry’s statement came in response to a claim by St. Petersburg legislator Vitaly Milonov, who questioned the legality of the pop singer’s visit after she spoke out in support of gay rights and the Pussy Riot feminist punk group, who were jailed after a protest stunt at Christ the Saviour Cathedral last spring.

Madonna failed to obtain a work permit that would have allowed her to give a commercial performance, the Foreign Ministry said, adding that since the singer was invited by the Culture Ministry on a single-entry three month visa, the purpose of her visit should have been limited to “cultural ties.”

"If a foreign national's activity in Russia is aimed at making a profit, including through commercial performances, the said national must receive a work permit from the Federal Migration Service, and therefore must be issued a normal work visa, with the purpose of the visit stated as work for hire," the Foreign Ministry statement quoted by Izvestia said.

Milonov said that the organizers of the concert should be held responsible for the violation.

“Those who applied for a visa for Louise Ciccone [the singer's birth name is Madonna Louise Ciccone] face a fine of 500,000 roubles ($16.7 million),” Izvestia quoted Milonov as saying. “It has to be determined whether [Madonna] filed the documents herself. The question of the legality of Madonna’s visit to our country will also come up, and next time it will be a lot more difficult to get a visa.”

Madonna was not hired to give the performance, so there is no contract that could serve as the basis of a work visa, Izvestia reported, citing Yevgeny Finkelshtein, the president of tour organizers PMI . “All over the world, there is such a concept as an artist’s visa,” Finkelshtein was quoted as saying. “The work visa that Milonov was insisting on would take half a year to obtain and would require a work contract.”

First published in The Moscow News.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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