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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pop Queen Pugachyova Announces Comeback

Alla Pugachyova, the undisputed doyenne of Russian pop, announced a comeback Wednesday amid reports that an advantageous tax deal is being cut for performing artists.

After a two-year absence, Pugachyova, 48, who enjoys near-deity status in Russia, said she would return to the stage in a series of star-studded Christmas concerts at Moscow's Olympiisky stadium. A tour of 50 cities in Russia and other former Soviet republics is slated for 1998.

"Without the stage ... I couldn't live," she said at a packed news conference Wednesday.

Dressed in a black off-the-shoulder number with a cascade of orange curls heaped on her head, Pugachyova looked every inch the consummate star. Outside in the cold, a crowd of devoted fans craned their necks in hope of glimpsing Pugachyova stepping into her white, stretch limousine.

Such a high profile has its drawbacks. Pugachyova and other stars have become sitting ducks for tax inspectors seeking to fill the government's chronically barren coffers.

In response, a small group of artists formed a committee and met the head of the tax inspectorate, Alexander Pochinok, in late September.

"Mr. Pochinok learned a lot about our lives that he didn't know before," she said Wednesday. "We should travel in luxury, we should dress as ... hmmm ... artists. I cost a lot."

Pugachyova flatly denied, however, that there was any conflict with the tax inspectorate.

"It was a learning process for them and us. With conflict you achieve nothing," she said.

Pugachyova and her pop-star husband, Fillip Kirkorov, who is 18 years her junior, are no strangers to the tax police. This summer, Kirkorov was reprimanded for grossly under-declaring his annual income at 12 million rubles ($2,000). He later said it was an oversight by his manager.

Superstars maintain that strict compliance with Russia's tax code would drive them off stage. They suggested a five-year transition period during which rules could be modified and all performers brought into compliance with the tax code.

The tax police seem willing to negotiate, partly out of hope that public compliance by celebrities will encourage mere mortals to pay their taxes. In December, television cameras will be on hand as stars turn up to fill out income declarations at the tax Inspectorate, the Izvestiya newspaper reported Wednesday.