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KAZAN, December 4. /TASS/. Some 1,000 residents of Russia’s constituent republic of Tatarstan have signed a petition to move the popular New Wave music contest out of Latvia’s seaside resort of Jurmala to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan.
The document with the signatures was sent to Moscow to be forwarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the city mayor's office told TASS on Thursday.
Some 30 collection points were set up in Kazan on Wednesday where people could sign the petition to relocate the festival. Signatures could also be submitted online.
On Thursday morning, thousands of volunteers held a special flash mob, stretching on the bank of the Kazanka River a large banner reading “Kazan Is for New Wave.” Video footage was posted on YouTube and social media.
The New Wave contest, an annual televised event held annually in Jurmala since 2002, has been drawing crowds and competitors from across the countries of the former Soviet Union, but it has become increasingly contentious in recent years.
This year, tensions came in July when Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics denied entry to three Russian singers Oleg Gazmanov, Joseph Kobzon and Alla Perfilova, broadly known in Russia as Valeriya. The denial came just days before they were scheduled to perform at the event.
Rinkevics cited the singers' stance on the Ukraine crisis as the reason but his explanations drew sharp criticism from organizer Igor Krutoy and other New Wave supporters.
Russia’s Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky claimed that the New Wave festival was on the verge of being cancelled and moved to Russia, noting that “Russian artists will not tolerate such a slap in the face”. At the time, several Russian regions and cities were proposed as new contenders to host the contest, including Kazan, Crimea, Sochi and Kaliningrad, as well Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.
At the end of November, Kazan mayor Ilsur Metshin, said the city was ready to organize the event without additional funding from the federal budget. He said the local authorities would provide three platforms on the bank of the Kazanka River and could build a new venue if necessary.