U2’s first-ever concert in Russia began on a sour note. Before the show, which happened at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, police arrested Amnesty International activists who were handing out leaflets, and forced out volunteers for other non-profits, including Greenpeace Russia and U2’s own ONE Campaign Against AIDS. “We were not allowed to collect signatures and to talk to people,” Greenpeace organizer Ivan Blokov told the BBC. “Our activities were agreed with by U2’s management, so we are very much surprised.” Everyone arrested was later released.
U2 and their management have allowed Amnesty International to set up tents throughout their 360 Tour. “I don’t know if Bono knows about what happened to us,” said Sergei Nikitin of Amnesty International’s Moscow office. Bono made mention of Amnesty International but not the arrests during the concert. On the subject of Burma and plight of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Bono said: “From Burma Action and Amnesty International, let’s hold her up. Let’s tell the powers that be that they can’t touch her, she belongs to us.”
During the show Bono also talked about his meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and said hello to his “friend” Mikhail Gorbachev, who was at the stadium, U2’s official site writes. Russian rocker and activist Yuri Shevchuk, the “Russian Springsteen” who recently made headlines in the States after he lashed out at Vladimir Putin during a nationally televised event, joined U2 for a performance of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” According to U2.com, the gig featured the biggest crowd at a Russian rock concert since Pink Floyd played Moscow’s Olympic Stadium in 1989.
In other unfortunate news for U2, the band was fined $22,000 by the city of Barcelona for playing too loud, and past their curfew, during U2’s rehearsals for the 360 Tour last year, the AP reports.