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2003-May-24: Much Loved in Russia

Russian president Vladimir Putin  welcomed Sir Paul to the Kremlin today saying:
"You are much loved here (Russia).  In the past, you and the Beatles were very popular here. Your music was like a drop of freedom,"
When Sir Paul asked if the Beatles' music was banned in the USSR, President Putin explained that many things were "excessively ideologized" in the USSR at that time::
"There was no ban, but the fact that you were not allowed, for example, to give a concert in Red Square in the 1980s says something.  It was thought that it was wrong to hold a concert because the ideas the Beatles stood for did not fit in with the framework of the accepted ideology."
Sir Paul had said that he had wanted to perform in Red Square in the 1980s:
"It did not work then and I had to come back here. Now it is even better,"
President Putin asked Sir Paul about his visit to St. Petersburg yesterday.  Sir Paul replied:
"It is an astonishing city, very beautiful.  ," Paul McCartney said.
Heather, who accompanied Sir Paul to the Kremlin, ask President Putin if he was aware of their campaign to ban land-mines and if they had his support.  The Russian president replied:
"Yes, I know about it, and it's the right area of activity to be involved in. Anything that aims to save people's lives deserves attention. In order to solve it at a state level, it has to be agreed by diplomats and military specialists."
After their meeting in the Kremlin's Fireplace Hall, President Putin gave Sir Paul a tour of the Kremlin.  President Putin explained the history of the centuries-old Armory as they walked through the facility.  He then let a Kremlin guide explain the history and architecture of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the Tsar Cannon, and Cathedral Square.  Sightseers also on a tour of Kremlin, many of whom were school children, were surprised and delighted to be warmly greeted by Sir Paul and President  Putin.  At the end of the tour, President Putin wished Sir Paul good-bye in English.

After his meeting with the Russian president, Sir Paul told reporters that he was:
" extremely pleased with his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his visit to the Kremlin.  This is my first trip to Moscow. My wife and I were received by Vladimir Putin. This meeting was very interesting."
Then Sir Paul said he was off to "test" the stage in Red Square which he had not seen yet.  Sir Paul was then taken by limousine to  the Red Square stage where he will perform this evening.

Earlier in the week, twenty trucks rolled into Moscow carrying Sir Paul's concert equipment and eight large screens.  On May 20,  the McCartney crew went to work setting up the stage between the St. Basil Cathedral and the Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower.

Security is tight.  The stage area is being examined for explosives by 20 police dog handlers.  Police have searched the attics and basements of all adjacent buildings.  More than 1,000 police, private security agents and military troops will monitor the square during the concert.  Video security cameras have been installed around the perimeter of Red Square. 

Tickets have been sold to 20,000  fans who will hear Sir Paul perform a three hour concert of 36 songs, 22 of which will be Beatles tunes.  The Russian group The Time Machine is expected to perform one number with Sir Paul.

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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