Even for a performer who courts controversy, Madonna's Tuesday gig in Moscow has been notably contentious.
The city didn't like the planned venue, other critics said her original plan to perform on Sept. 11 was disrespectful to the victims of the U.S. terror attacks five years ago, and officials of Russia's two largest religions didn't care for her performing anytime and anywhere.
But for tens of thousands of Muscovites, her show is one of the most exciting events of the year's cultural calendar, a sold-out blowout to end the summer. TV cameras staked out Moscow's airports for her arrival Monday afternoon, which was a bit short on her trademark glamor: Madonna was covered in a long black coat with a fur collar, apparently a concession to the city's coolish weather.
The temperature is expected to be around 11 C (52 F) for the show at Luzhniki Stadium, but the performance is expected to contain plenty for hot dispute particularly the planned ending when Madonna sings while suspended from a cross.
That segment is at the heart of religious' groups objections to Madonna's show.
"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," Father Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, was quoted as saying by the Pravda news Web site.
Damir Gizatullin, deputy head of Russia's Council of Muftis, said Muslims object to her performance because they offend both Christians and Muslims. "This is in conflict with the traditions of our people," he said, according to the business daily Kommersant.
Several small protests against the upcoming concert have taken place in the past few weeks, mostly by devout Russian Orthodox believers.
Madonna originally planned to perform at Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills), a scenic expanse on the heights just south of the Moscow River framed by the soaring tower of Moscow State University.
That fell through when police said they couldn't ensure security in such a sprawling area and when officials objected to the promoters' reported demand university students keep their dormitory windows closed in order not to get a free show.
City authorities pushed for the concert to be held at Tushino Airfield, the site of many outdoor rock extravaganzas. However, Tushino is charmless at best and its security image is shadowed by the 2003 double suicide bombing at a concert there that killed 14 spectators.
Eventually, the sides compromised on Luzhniki, a relatively easy site to police because of its location at the tip of a horseshoe bend in the Moscow River, reports AP.
Police on Monday promised extensive security measures for the more than 50,000 ticket holders, including passing each of them through metal detectors and package inspection points.
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