Entry bans for pro-Kremlin entertainers

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Latvia will refuse entry to three Russian entertainers who have been among the most outspoken supporters of Kremlin policies in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said Monday, a day before the controversial 'New Wave' Russian pop music festival starts in Latvia's Jūrmala resort.

“The most active propagandists – there is no other way of describing them – will be denied entry to Latvia,” Rinkēvičs told Latvian Radio in a morning interview.

“I can say there will be three or four people named who have several times since March taken the most aggressive stances against the norms of international law,” Rinkēvičs said.

A subsequent statement by the Foreign Ministry confirmed the names of the three individuals as Oleg Gazmanov, Iosif Kobzon and Alla Perfilova, better known as 'Valeriya'.

“Of course people can say whatever they like, but I want to make a clear signal that in a European Union member state people who spread such views are not welcome... there is not an enclave in the European Union where these people can continue their information war.”

Implementing the ban would signal that Latvia will not allow its territory to be used to spread Moscow's line about the annexation of Crimea and conflict in Ukraine, Rinkēvičs said.

The move causes a headache for the organizers of New Wave, an extravagant televised event that attracts participants and visitors from across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and beyond.

Popular among Russia's cadre of ultra-wealthy oligarchs, the arrival of their mega-yachts and private planes is a staple of the gossip columns in both Latvia and Russia.

However, despite its popularity with some and the considerable boost it gives the Jūrmala economy, other Latvians dislike New Wave with complaints that it can seem disrespectful to its host nation and that it awakens memories of the occupation era when Jūrmala was a playground for the Soviet elite.

The New Wave website, which has Russian and English versions but not Latvian, describes the event as “a unique opportunity to see exclusive performances of world-class celebrities and witness unforgettable music” with tickets priced from 35 to 350 euros.

New Wave's co-chairmen are Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls and Russian impresario Igor Krutoy.


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