Kremlin crooner Kobzon craves Constitutional Court case

Russian lawmaker, easy listening balladeer and Mafia-linked businessman Josif Kobzon has placed a complaint with the Latvian Constitutional Court over the fact that he is barred from entering the country, Latvian Radio's Ivo Leitans reported Friday.

Kobzon, unknown in the West but a familiar and striking face in the East, was blacklisted by Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics in June along with two other Russian pop stars, all of whom had made public statements backing the annexation of Crimea.  

Kobzon's application focuses on his belief that he was not allowed any right of appeal to Rinkēvičs' decision, even though the law provides for no right of appeal under such circumstances.

As a result he has turned to the Constitutional Court in an unlikely gambit to recover approximately €11,000 he claims he paid in advance for a hotel room he never had a chance to use.

Rinkēvičs said Friday he had nothing to say about the case other than that he had followed the letter of the law when decaring Kobzon persona non grata.

"If he thinks that his rights have been violated, and he has submitted a request to the Constitutional Court, then it is up to the Constitutional Court to decide the matter," the minister said, adding that the main beneficiaries of such a move would likely be Kobzon's lawyers.

Kobzon bears the unusual distinction of having been barred from Latvia twice. The first time was in 2001 as result of his believed ties to the Russian Mafia.

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