Prominent Russian singer Josif Kobzon was issued an Italian visa even though he was in the E.U. blacklist. Italian embassy spokesperson Daria Klimenko said Wednesday that the singer-turned-MP had been granted visa for humanitarian reasons.
The “Russian Sinatra” is known for his support for the annexation of Crimea. He said that he was happy when he was blacklisted by the European Union in February. However, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who reportedly helped Kobzon travel to Europe to get cancer treatment.
The exception made to Kobzon made a number of Russian individuals angry. Russian journalist Oleg Kashin wondered if the conflict between Russia and the West was “just for fun.”
“Yes, it's the Cold War,” The Moscow Times quoted the prominent journalist as saying. “But the borders of this seriousness and determination are marked by a medical visa issued to Kobzon -- despite all the seriousness -- by the European authorities and, more importantly, requested by the Russian state or, as some say, Vladimir Putin himself.”
Kobzon said in August that he would request the Russian president to help him get treatment in a European country, which had blacklisted him. He later said that Putin had told him to ask for help without hesitation.
Russian blogger Mitya Aleshkovsky said that Kobzon had the opportunity to make lives better for Russian people but he did not do it. “So let him be treated in the Kashirka oncology center [the Blokhin Russian Cancer Research Center located on Moscow's Kashirskoye Shosse],” Aleshkovsky wrote. "That's the best punishment for all the suffering he and other [State Duma] deputies have brought on us.”
Russia's Tass news agency reported that the Italian visa allowed Kobzon to stay a maximum of 90 days within 6 months.