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Toto's concert in Russia. Screenshot from YouTube

Ukraine blacklists popular Italian singers

Ukranian MPs want to have an Italian singer banned from performing in the country because of his political views.

Published: March 17, 2019, 8:40 am

    Kiev

    A group of Ukrainian MPs have demanded that secret services (SBU) chief Vasily Gritsak ban Italian singer Toto Cutugno from holding a concert in Kiev on March 23 due to his alleged pro-Russian positions.

    One of the MPs who made the request, Viktor Romanyuk, told ANSA that the request was launched because “on the internet, there is a lot of information on his position regarding the occupation of Crimea”.

    Italian news agency ANSA learned on Friday that Romanyuk confirmed the reports of the requested ban on Thursday to Economistua.com. “He is part of the Friends of Putin association and supported the Russian annexation of Crimea.”

    In response to the proposed ban, Cutugno told ANSA “I’m very surprised and sorry about this news. It’s absurd that a group of Ukrainian MPs want to stop me signing in a country I love and that loves my music.

    “I’m apolitical, is that clear? I have sung in institutional occasions for heads of state including Putin, but that doesn’t mean political support”.

    Cutugno’s manager Danilo Mancuso told ANSA: “Toto has always been far from the political ambit and in all his life has never expressed himself in any direction”.

    Ukraine’s culture ministry on Monday put another Italian singer, Albano Carrisi, better known by his stage name Al Bano, on its list of individuals considered a threat to national security.

    Al Bano and his ex-wife Romina Power performed in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and they are still popular in Russia.

    The blacklist is compiled and updated by the Ministry of Culture based on requests from the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the Ukrainian security services and the National TV and Radio Council. There are now 147 people on the black list, the Interfax agency reported.

    The Apulian singer has never hidden his admiration for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. “I met him three times,” he said in a recent interview. “I have never said a word against Ukraine. Never even made an appreciation. It is unacceptable that I, who have always sung peace now is treated as a terrorist. I have never owned weapons, not even mental ones,” he commented.

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