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08/10/1998 16:34:08 After 30-year wait, Stones roll into Moscow

By Adam Tanner

MOSCOW, Aug 10 (Reuters) - More than 30 years after

they first tried to pierce the Iron Curtain to perform in

the Soviet Union, the Rolling Stones on Monday hailed the

changes that have finally allowed them to play in Moscow.

"They thought the show so awful and so decadent that

they said this show would never happen in Russia," singer

Mick Jagger said, recounting the veteran rock band's

efforts to give a concert here in 1967.

"We played in Warsaw that year and after that was

quite successful we asked if we could come to Moscow,"

Jagger told a press conference with band mates Keith

Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts.

The answer from the rock-hating Soviet authorities

then, and to a second request a decade later, was a

resolute "nyet". "It was completely political because the

regime in those days didn't want any rock bands at all,"

he said.

On Tuesday the 35-year old group will get their first

chance to perform in Moscow at the 83,000-seat Olympic

stadium.

"Things have changed, and we're very, very excited

about doing this show on Tuesday," said Jagger, who

retains his trademark boyishness and broad, winning smile.

"It's been a very, very long time since we wanted to come

to Russia."

Later on Monday they took an evening tour of Red

Square, surprising summer tourists with their unlikely

appearance.

Asked how they would sate 30 years of pent-up Russian

demand for their live music, Jagger joked: "It's just a

nibble, like a starter. We hope it will just be the

beginning."

The band, whose members are all in their 50s -- a

whole generation older than Russian Prime Minister Sergei

Kiriyenko -- has faced some difficulties on its "Bridges

to Babylon" tour.

They cancelled concerts in Italy and the United States

after Jagger developed laryngitis. The European tour began

a month late because Richards -- who smoked and wore

sunglasses during the press conference at their hotel --

broke two ribs.

They have also sparked controversy by cancelling the

tour at home in Britain because of a new tax law.

Russian fans have just one opportunity to see the

legendary band, but with tickets priced at $20 to $200 in

a country where average monthly wages are about $150, not

all tickets were sold as of Monday night.

Asked by one Russian reporter what kind of monument

they would like to see erected by Russian fans, Jagger

joked about a massive and controversial new grotesque

statue of Tsar Peter the Great dominating part of the

Moscow riverfront.

"I rather like the mad one of Peter," Jagger said.

"Maybe we could have one like that with very large guitars

placed on it."

He declined to talk about the current crisis in the

country in which official statistics show an economic

depression dragging on for the past decade.

"It would be incredibly presumptious of me or anyone,

I think, at this stage to start talking about the problems

of Russia," said Jagger, who arrived on Saturday night.

In their 35-year career the band says it has has sold

more than 100 million albums and given more than 1,000

concerts.


Mick Jagger of legendary Rolling Stones rock band performs during a concert in Luzhniki sport complex August 11. The Rolling Stones finally made their Russian debut on Tuesday - by now almost as old as the geriatric Soviet communist leaders who had banned them three decades before.

Foto: REUTERS

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