Russia Prepares for Madonna Invasion

Security is stepped up in anticipation of protests over her concert

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Madonna spent Monday on a secret mission to Moscow, where she is due to perform at Luzhniki Stadium on Tuesday night: She quietly arrived by private plane at an undisclosed location for security reasons, The New York Times reports.

“Our task is to prevent thousands of fans from sweeping into some concrete location, obstructing work at the airport or hotel,” Madonna’s Russian tour rep Anton G. Atrashkin told the news agency Ria Novosti.

Originally due to hold her concert on Sept. 11, Madonna bowed to critics and delayed the show by one day so as not be disrespectful to the victims of the terror attacks five years ago, the Associated Press reports.

Despite the hush-hush measures over her arrival, word still must have leaked out, says The Times, noting that a few hundred fans shouted Madonna’s name as they gathered outside the upscale Ararat Park Hyatt in anticipation of her arrival. By 8:30 p.m., they saw what they’d come for.

“We wanted this for so long,” Rustan A. Stydalov, whose long, platinum blond hair resembles Madonna’s, told The Times. “The last few weeks have been so nerve-racking.”

At issue in her current “Confessions” tour (which kicked off in Los Angeles May 21 and wraps up with concerts in Osaka and Tokyo next week) is the performance’s finale, in which Madonna sings while hanging on a cross. Recently the scene sparked protests in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, where last week a priest was arrested for phoning in a fake bomb threat, the Associated Press reports.

“This lady has been glorifying human passions with the help of religious symbols for years – crosses, statues and beads,” Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Father Vsevolod Chaplin is quoted as saying on the Pravda news Web site. “Now she thinks it is time for her to crucify herself in public. It means the singer is in need of spiritual help.”

Madonna has defended the scene, saying, “I don’t think Jesus would be mad at me and the message I’m trying to send.”

In preparation for Tuesday’s show, police have promised stepped-up security measures for the more than 50,000 ticket holders, including airport-style metal detectors and bag inspections. In all, some 7,000 police will be on duty for the concert, including riot police stationed outside the stadium.

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