Russia Considers Prosecuting Lady Gaga and Madonna For Inappropriate Visa Use
|Emblem of the office of the Russian Prosecutor General|
By Brody Levesque | MOSCOW, Russia -- A spokesperson for the Prosecutor General of Russian Federation, Yury Chaika, confirmed to LGBTQ Nation Monday that the Prosecutor General's office is considering prosecution against American singers Lady Gaga and Madonna for fraudulent visitor non-immigrant visas after discovering they entered the country under incorrect paperwork.
The investigation was touched off by a formal complaint from St. Petersburg regional parliamentarian Vitaly Milonov, a co-author of the recent legislation passed by the national Duma and signed into law in June by Russian President Vladimir Putin banning gay "propaganda."
The Investigative Committee of Russia, sometimes described as the "Russian FBI," the main federal investigating authority in Russia confirmed that neither singer obtained an appropriate visa prior to performing there last year.
According to Russian officials, Madonna, who played in August 2012, and Gaga, who appeared in December of 2012, were admitted under "cultural-exchange visas."
"These visas do not grant their bearers the right to engage in any commercial activity," Marina Gridneva, spokesperson for the Prosecutor General's Office, said adding that prosecutors are now considering asking Russia's foreign ministry or federal immigration service to press charges.
Milonov had previously attempted to launch criminal proceedings against the singers based on the St. Petersburg [local] law that was passed prior to the national legislation that bans "promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors." Those efforts failed.
Both women are outspoken advocates of the LGBT community globally and had made supportive statements from the stage during separate concert appearances in the Russian Federation last year.
A spokesperson for the U. S. State Department Monday noted that Russian immigration and visa law(s) can be extremely complicated but declined comment when asked about specifics regarding the prosecutors' announcement regarding the singers.
Russian entertainment promoters are concerned that efforts to pursue legal action against the singers could have a chilling effect on future tours by western performers, as well as tourism for this winter's Sochi Games.
"Not one artist, circus or exhibition will come here if the prosecutor's office fines someone now," Yevgeny Finkelstein, a promoter in St Petersburg, told Russian Media outlet RIA Novosti.