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Ukraine security service plans to vet Russian stars

Ukraine's parliament passed legislation Thursday allowing Russian pop stars and other performing artists to tour the former Soviet republic only after being vetted by its strict security service.

The new measure must still be signed into law by President Petro Poroshenko and has so far received no official response from Moscow.

But it marks another escalation in a cultural clash being waged by the neighbours alongside a 41-month war between Kiev forces and Moscow-backed eastern fighters in which more than 10,000 people have died.

Ukraine has already barred numerous Russian artists from entry because of their political views.

The highest-profile and most explosive case involved Kiev’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest last year.

Ukraine barred Russia’s entrant Yulia Samoilova from taking part in the pan-European TV competition because she had performed in Crimea after the peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Eurovision organisers initially threatened to expel Ukraine from future events over the decision before relenting.

Kiev has also expanded a blacklist of Europeans who cannot enter Ukraine because of their support for Crimea’s seizure by Russian troops.

These include French actor Gerard Depardieu — who also holds Russian nationality — and right-wing politicians from a host of EU countries who have visited Crimea.

The Black Sea region was annexed by Russia a month after Ukraine’s pro-EU revolution of February 2014 toppled the Kremlin-backed president.

Kiev and its Western allies further accuse Russia of plotting and backing the eastern war that erupted in April 2014.

The conflict in Ukraine’s coal country plunged the economy into a nosedive and was seen by the new pro-Western leaders as an effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to continue exerting control over Kiev.

The Kremlin denies any involvement despite overwhelming eyewitness evidence of its tanks and troops crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border into the war zone.

– Reporters’ expulsion –

Parliament’s action against artists came on the same day Ukraine’s SBU security service expelled a Russian state television reporter for allegedly preparing a programme that hurt the “national interests” of the crisis-torn state.

NTV’s Vyacheslav Nemyshev was the second Russian journalist to be deported from Ukraine in just over a month.

Russian Channel One’s Anna Kurbatova was kicked out for similar reasons in August.

NTV said Nemyshev was detained in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday while he was slicing up a popular cake called “Kiev” as a stunt for one of his reports.

The dessert is made by a confectionary company founded by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

The Russian foreign ministry called Thursday’s expulsion an act of “discrimination” that showcased the “repressive policies” of Ukraine.

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