Activists Held At U2 Show

Human rights group Amnesty International says five of its activists were detained while displaying banners and distributing leaflets at the U2 concert in Moscow Aug. 25.

Two days earlier frontman Bono met Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and didn’t make any criticism of the country’s leadership, but the band invited Russian rock star turned Kremlin critic Yury Shevchuk to join them onstage at the Moscow show.

Shevchuk has been highly critical of what he perceives to be the undemocratic society that has developed in Putin’s Russia. He’s taken part in dissenters’ marches in Saint Petersburg and organized two peace concerts in protest of the Russian-Georgian war.

The Amnesty protesters were held by the Moscow militia, which also closed the group’s information stalls as well as those of Greenpeace and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. The militia claims it took action because the volunteers had arranged an illegal protest.

All five have reportedly been released, although the Interfax newswire has quoted an unnamed official as saying two of them are still being detained.

Dmitry Zaretsky of show promoter SAV Entertainment believes the 60,000 people attending the gig made it the largest single concert by any act in the last 20 years.

He says prior to that some Russian acts may have pulled more people, but Uriah Heap in 1987 and Status Quo the following year only pulled more by doing multi-show runs in the 16,000-capacity Moscow Olympic Arena.