Russia is evolving into a civilised, Western-type country at least in terms of the growing number of scandals involving pop stars. Russian scandals, however, are not created for advertising purposes, to boost popularity like in Michael Jackson's case for example.
Russian pop idol Filipp Kirkorov has deeply insulted a girl reporter at a news conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov, while his bodyguards even used force against the girl.
To get the idea of the scandal's scale imagine that Robby Williams verbally abused a girl correspondent from a Brighton newspaper.
However, such scandals look more disgusting in the Russian environment. Filipp Kirkorov, a two-metre high goodlooker of Bulgarian extraction, is not merely a national idol. He is a show business tycoon who owns the Kirkorov Productions company that has recently produced Chicago musical and performed it life in Moscow.
Kirkorov's songs to down-home music with a lot of dancers in splendid costumes and laser effects have won him a millions-strong army of fans, above all middle aged women who watch television while cooking. Hence Kirkorov's title of king of housewives.
Housewives are now watching TV horrified, drying their tears with towels. All the channels are showing the dramatic press conference in Rostov where their beloved, sweet-voiced idol and romantic hero posed as a foul-mouthed cad humiliating a woman to recover his pride.
The video tape shows Irina Aroyan, a local Gazeta Dona correspondent, a good-looking girl in an enticing pink blouse asking a totally inoffensive question why there are so many remakes in his repertory, and whether that was caused by the lack of new melodies, authors or other reasons.
Kirkorov started enumerating his hit songs but cut himself short and lashed out at the girl - "I'm fed up with you..." Then he pronounced profanities that are not normally used at press conferences but can be heard in port pubs.
Then he ordered her out. Irina replied that it was her job to be there. This remark triggered a new vicious spurt of temper. "You must prepare for press conferences with stars. You walked the streets yesterday, and today you are sitting in the stall..."
The super star mimicked the reporter's southern accent in the end and shouted obscenities at her.
Irina Aroyan said Kirkorov's bodyguards had attacked her outside the concert hall, grabbed her by the hands and stopped her mouth with an arm saying - "Do you know who you were talking to. We will make you shut your mouth!" They tore the flashcard away from the girl's camera and tried to break her dictating machine.
This incident may look common mischief compared to some of the western super-stars' behaviour. Indeed, Kirkorov did not set ablaze his guitar on stage, neither did he pee on the audience or bit off a living bird's head. He did not simulate autoeroticism on stage either.
However, such a conduct was a big mistake as it destroyed his stage image of Orpheus singing about love for the woman. Indeed, a knight without fear and reproach worshipped by millions of female aficionados appeared to be a male chauvinist who does not hesitate to insult a woman. What will his numerous aficionados feel listening to his sweet songs henceforth?
The country has already launched protests against the pop singer.
The local Vostochny Ekspress (Orient Express) television and radio channel announced Kirkorov a persona non grata striking off his songs and even concerts in which he participated from all programmes. The protests are approaching Moscow. Housewives, his most loyal aficionados, are collecting signatures under petitions to their authorities to bar Kirkorov from singing in their region, city or town.
Meanwhile, Irina Aroyan has filed a complaint over being attacked by Kirkorov's bodyguards and damage to her professional equipment. She is also considering suing Kirkorov over the abuse of honour and dignity. Going Together, an influential youth organisation close to the United Russia party, which advocates the refinement of morals, has offered Irina financial and legal support.
Kirkorov may face up to a year of correctional labour.
However, it is thus far unclear what effect the scandal will have on his career. His music chart ratings can either go up dramatically or plummet. Russian audiences will thereby show whether they treat the incident as an insignificant occurrence, or even a good advertisement for the singer, or whether they are disappointed by discrepancy between the singer's image and his inner world.
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