THE RUSSIAN deputy PM, Dmitry Rogozin, has called Madonna a "slut" after she used a St Petersburg concert to show support for Pussy Riot, the radical punk band currently on trial for singing a protest song against the president, Vladimir Putin.
On Twitter, Rogozin wrote: "With age, every former s. tries to lecture everyone on morality." While he didn't use the whole word for "slut", just an initial, Russian speakers are clear that was what he meant.
As the Sun reports, he added: "Either take off your cross, or put on your knickers."
Earlier, at a Moscow gig on Tuesday, Madonna performed one song wearing a balaclava in emulation of the punk collective, who are awaiting a verdict. She also had the words 'Pussy Riot' written on her bare back.
She told the audience: "I know there are many sides to every story and I mean no disrespect to the church or the government, but I think these girls ... have done something courageous and they have paid the price for this act and I pray for their freedom."
The band's lawyers appeared to accept that a guilty verdict was a foregone conclusion as they made their closing remarks that same evening. Pussy Riot are accused of blasphemy after they burst into Moscow's main cathedral to sing a "Punk prayer" - a protest they say was political.
Prosecution lawyers want the three women - Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich - jailed for three years on the basis that their actions were anti-religious.
The prosecutors claimed in court that "no politicians were named" in the "Punk prayer" - even though the title and refrain of the song were "Virgin Mary, chase Putin out!", said The Guardian on Tuesday.
Tolokonnikova's husband, Pytor Verzilov, praised Madonna: "She might be changing Russia's history by this. To give a sentence after something like this would be committing international political suicide, admitting that you're no better than North Korea."
The deputy PM made his remarks as the singer was taking to the stage in St Petersburg for a second Russian gig. There was speculation that she might use it to "promote homosexuality" just as she had shown support for the gay community at her Moscow gig.
While Madonna was free to make gay-friendly remarks in Moscow, St Petersburg has local laws forbidding the "promotion of homosexuality". Homosexuality has only been legal in Russia since 1993 and was declassified as a mental illness in 1999.
Sure enough, the pop veteran asked her St Petersburg audience to wear a pink bracelet to "show your love and appreciation to the gay community". She could now face a fine for her remarks.
As she had in Moscow, Madonna also supported Pussy Riot from her St Petersburg stage, again donning a balaclava in homage to them while she sang Like a Virgin.
Whatever happens to Pussy Riot, Madonna has burnished her own image: as some commentators are observing on Twitter, the 53-year-old hasn't seemed this relevant for decades. ·