how sad. how very, very sad.

madonna NOTReuters

Published: September 15, 2006

MOSCOW Madonna sang suspended from a cross during her first Moscow concert Tuesday, defying a plea from the Russian Orthodox Church to drop that part of her act because it was blasphemous.

The American pop star has outraged Christian groups across Europe by staging a mock crucifixion during her global “Confessions” tour.

She made no changes to her show for about 50,000 fans at a Moscow stadium that had been the main venue for the 1980 Olympic Games.

For her entrance, she descended from the roof of the arena inside a glistening ball and dressed in horse-riding gear. Later she changed into a crimson blouse and hung from a huge cross wearing a crown of thorns.

Madonna, 48, whose shows have been denounced by the Vatican, has attracted accusations of blasphemy throughout her career. The Russian Orthodox Church called for a boycott of her concert, and religious groups staged protests.

But that did little to dampen enthusiasm among Muscovites, who have eagerly attended concerts by the Western pop stars who occasionally make visits. The concert Tuesday was Madonna’s only performance in Russia.

Tickets from official outlets sold for between 1,500 and 10,000 rubles, or about $55 and $370. But black-market tickets were on sale for up to 78,000 rubles.

The police said about 50,000 people had thronged to the Soviet- built Luzhniki stadium to watch the performance, marking the end of her European tour.

Riot police and lines of army cadets monitored thousands of fans who streamed to the stadium. About 7,000 police and interior troops were on duty inside the stadium, Russian news agencies said.

The police detained a handful of Orthodox protesters outside the stadium, local news agencies reported.

But fans had only words of support for Madonna’s use of religious imagery. “It’s misunderstood. It’s pop music and modern art,” said Igor Antipov, 27, who came from St Petersburg for the concert.

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