September 4, 2006

Russian Orthodox radicals demand Madonna show ban

By James Kilner

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Members of a radical Russian Orthodox
group speared a poster of U.S. pop star Madonna on Monday and
demanded a ban on her show in which she stages a

Tickets to Madonna's September 12 concert -- part of her
"Confessions" global tour -- had been sold nearly two months in
advance despite protests from Christian churches.

The Orthodox Church has urged believers to stay away from
the show, in which Madonna sings from a crucifix, wearing a
crown of thorns, describing it as "blasphemy."

Fringe Orthodox groups demanded the show be banned.

"We will never allow her to desecrate our greatest icons.
We demand to drive Madonna out of Russian territory," Leonid
Simanovich-Nikshich, head of a group calling itself the Union
of Orthodox Religious Banner Bearers, told about 100 supporters
at a central Moscow square.

"They say that Madonna is very rich, but what is all that
wealth if a person has lost their soul?"

Simanovich-Nikshich and a couple of supporters then speared
a portrait poster of Madonna with a wooden pike, ripped it up,
tossed the pieces on the ground and stamped on them.

Supporters waved flags and banners. "Power to Christ. Death
to the Anti-Christ," one banner read.

The Vatican accused Madonna of blasphemy and provocation
when she staged the mock crucifixion in Rome last month.

Madonna has attracted accusations of blasphemy throughout
her career. In 1989 her hit song "Like a Prayer" featured
burning crosses and statues crying blood.