Riga mayor blasts entry bans on Russian singers

Riga mayor and Harmony Center (SC) Prime Ministerial candidate Nils Ušakovs on Tuesday delivered a withering response to a government decision to bar three Russian pop singers from entry to Latvia.

Writing on his Facebook page, Ušakovs said he hadn't intended to attend Tuesday night's glitzy opening ceremony of the New Wave song festival at which the three were due to appear, but would now do so in protest against the bans announced Monday by Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.

“Today I'm going to go to the New Wave opening. I find the whole circus that has developed in connection with this song contest disgusting. Ministers who are using these bizarre methods of working out their own psychological complexes. Nationalists who see a victory over Russian imperialism in the form of a blonde singer called Valeriya. It's shameful to look at,” Ušakovs wrote.

He listed two other reasons for his attendance: first to thank the organizers of the event which he said was “extremely beneficial” to Latvia and second because Latvia “needs good, mutually beneficial relations with Russia.”

This is well understood by our partners in Europe - including Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Finland. I do not want pre-election fever to be detrimental to the interests of my country,” Ušakovs concluded.

Ušakovs was confirmed July 16 as SC's candidate for the job of prime minister in October's Saeima elections.

The three singers on Latvia's entry blacklist are Oleg Gazmanov, Iosif Kobzon and Alla Perfilova, better known as 'Valeriya'.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry said they had been put on the list because they had "through their own words and actions contributed to the undermining of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity." 

LTV reported Monday that Gazmanov was placed on the blacklist despite the fact that he has a Latvian residency permit.

Kobzon was previously blacklisted by Latvia from 2001-4 for alleged links to organized crime.

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