Madonna performed in Moscow for the first time six years ago under a cloud of controversy.
Why should anything be different now?!
This time, it was threats of violence directed at the artist and American concertgoers that could have put a damper on the proceedings—but, just as it did in 2006 when Catholic groups had a problem with her crucifixion imagery, the show went on. Rather fiercely, we might add!
"As you can see here on my stage, everybody with me comes from every different place in the world," Madonna addressed the crowd at Moscow's Olympic Hall midshow on Tuesday. "From Africa, from America, from France, from Russia [the crowd cheered in response], from England."
"We are Christians, we are Muslims, we are Jews, we are everything you can imagine," she continued. "But we are a family. We are together. We are gay, we are straight, we are human beings!
"And this very last sentence, human beings, is the most important one, and in fact the only one, that we should refer to each other adds...OK?"
Madonna touches down in Saint Petersburg on Thursday, where she, her crew and her audience have been the target of threats, according to a memo issued by U.S. Embassy in Moscow and U.S. Consulate General in Saint Petersburg, which is Russia's second-largest city.
"Russian authorities have indicated to the Embassy that they are taking appropriate measures in light of this information," read the warning issued yesterday. "While we expect that enhanced security measures will be put in place at both concerts, U.S. citizens are reminded to remain vigilant regarding their personal security, and to be aware of their surroundings at all times, especially in crowded areas."
"As an artist, as a human being and as a woman," Madonna continued last night, also giving a shout-out to jailed Russian female punk trio Pussy Riot, who were arrested for hooliganism back in March after staging an unauthorized concert at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina are currently on trial.)
"I have the freedom to express my point of view—even if other people don't agree with me! Even if my government doesn't agree with me, I have the right to express my point of view...But my dream and my prayer is that everyone in the world has this right--not only here in Russia, but in France, in Iran, everywhere in the world. As human beings, we should have the right to express our opinions and still be treated as human beings."
"I know there are many sides to every story and I mean no disrespect to the Church or the government," Madonna said, "but I think these three girls—Masha, Katya, Nadya—I think they have done something courageous. I think they have paid the price for this act and I pray for their freedom...I know everyone in this auditorium, if you're here as my fan, feels they deserve the right to be free."
"Are you with me?!"
The Moscow crowd sure sounded with her, as we bet the Saint Petersburg crowd will sound tomorrow.