Pop star sees red as Kremlin poll hopefuls call tune

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The Independent Online
Moscow - Stop almost anyone in the street and you'll discover that Viktor Chernomyrdin, the Prime Minister, is not short of critics, writes Phil Reeves. You will meet pensioners without money or heating, soldiers without pay or clothing and women without jobs or housing. Now a new name can be added to the list: Glenn Hughes, ex-bass guitarist for Deep Purple and now performing solo.

A week ago he could not have picked out the balding Russian Prime Minister out of a police line-up of global politicians. Now, to his evident annoyance, he would have no difficulty, having been bombarded with images of the great man.

When Hughes agreed to give a concert in Moscow this week he thought it would simply be for "the Russian people". He had no idea the event was organised by Our Home Is Russia, the centrist party supported by President Boris Yeltsin and headed by Mr Chernomyrdin, who is desperately trying to curry favour with Russian trendies before next month's parliamentary elections.

The guitarist was "mortified" when the press broke the news to him. "I didn't know anything about the situation behind this concert, so I really must apologise 101 per cent," he told a press conference, as he sat before a giant poster of the Prime Minister (whom he could not identify). "I feel really stupid right now, but I have a concert to do so I must compose myself." And off he went, to a stage bedecked with party posters.

The concert was one of a series organised by an offshoot of Mr Chernomyrdin's party. Russians may be new to electoral politics, but they are fast learning the tricks: the initiative's organiser told the Moscow Times his mission was to "cynically target youth by providing them with action shows", an understandable ambition, given that the party lags behind the Communists in the opinion polls.

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