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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
Madonna sings on cross in Russia
Madonna performs in Russia
Madonna started her Russian concert dressed in riding gear
Madonna has played her first ever concert in Russia, singing suspended from a cross in a segment the Orthodox Church said was blasphemous.

The singer performed in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, marking the end of the Europe leg of her Confessions tour.

About 7,000 police joined tens of thousands of fans in the stadium. The show passed off without incident, but some protestors were detained outside.

Madonna, 48, has kept a low profile since arriving in Moscow on Monday.

Her gig was delayed to avoid a clash with 11 September anniversary events.

The venue was also switched at the last minute because of security fears.

Crown of thorns

Tuesday's concert began with the singer descending from the roof in riding gear singing Future Lovers - a song from her recent Confessions On A Dancefloor album.

"Hello Russia! Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for coming," she shouted to the crowd.

The show was unchanged from earlier European dates, including the controversial segment where Madonna sings Live To Tell while suspended from a mirrored cross.

During the song, Madonna wears a crimson blouse and a crown of thorns. The singer says the performance is part of an appeal for Aids charities.

The chairman of the Russian public committee for moral revival of the homeland, Aleksandr Shargunov, described the concert as a "satanic orgy".

The singer is in need of spiritual help
Father Vsevolod Chaplin
Despite the controversy, all of the tickets were highly sought after. The cheapest cost 1,500 roubles (30), higher than Russian's legal minimum monthly wage of 1,100 roubles (22).

Russian news agencies reported that 35,000-50,000 fans attended the show.

Igor Antipov, 27, who had travelled from St Petersburg for the concert, said: "It's pop music and modern art. The Church is another part of our life. I'm an Orthodox believer and I can see the distinction."

Members of the Russian Orthodox youth movement Georgiyevtsy protest in Moscow
Russian Orthodox groups have been protesting in Moscow

But Orthodox Church spokesman Father Vsevolod Chaplin told the Pravda website: "This lady has been glorifying human passions with the help of religious symbols for years - crosses, statues and beads.

"Now she thinks it is time for her to crucify herself in public. It means the singer is in need of spiritual help."

Russian police detained ten supporters of Orthodox organisations outside the concert for holding an unauthorised picket.

Last Friday, Dutch prosecutors said a priest had confessed to making a hoax bomb threat while unsuccessfully trying to stop Madonna's concerts in Amsterdam.

Madonna has defended staging the crucifix scene.

"I don't think Jesus would be mad at me and the message I'm trying to send," she told the New York Daily News in May.

The Confessions tour began in Los Angeles on 21 May and concludes with two concerts in Japan - in Osaka and Tokyo - next week.

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22 May 06 |  Entertainment


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