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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Puts Stop To Planned Bullfights

Stepping into the heated public dispute over next week's planned Portuguese Corrida shows, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov decided Monday to ban the bullfights, his spokesman said Monday.

Even if the corrida is performed according to Portuguese tradition in which the bull is not killed, it is still unacceptable because any form of corrida is "a demonstration of violence," Luzhkov's spokesman Sergei Tsoi was quoted by Interfax as saying.

The show's organizers responded with a threat to bring the matter to court if Luzhkov should interfere with the event, which is in final stages of preparation.

Two Portuguese Corrida shows have been scheduled to take place in Moscow's Olimpiisky Sports Complex on Sept. 8 and 9. The list of participants includes Lidia Artamonova, one of only three professional female bullfighters in the world and the only Russian.

"Our activities have been thoroughly scrutinized by just about all possible state and city structures — we are not violating any Russian law, and thus banning the corrida is illegal," said Andrei Agapov, the head of Russian Academy of Entertainment, the event organizer.

Portuguese bullfighting is considered less cruel and bloody than the Spanish version, however the bulls are still stabbed with banderillas, or barbed darts. Organizers of the Moscow corrida said smaller banderillas would be used, to make the cuts shallow and less harmful. Banderillas are said to be used for a number of purposes ranging from angering the bull and pleasing the crowd to bleeding the animal in order to lower blood pressure and avoid strokes.

In the leadup to the event, the anti-corrida protests have come from groups ranging from the Russian Orthodox Church to animal rights activists and even the pro-Kremlin youth group Idushchiye Vmeste, or Moving Together.

The protesters have been mounting an anti-corrida campaign for months, painting over the advertising posters and running pickets by the Olympic Stadium.

On Monday the campaign took a new spin, as activists staged a large-scale press event, once again calling for a ban on bullfights in Russia.

"It is not a question of whether there will be less or more blood," City Duma Deputy Yevgeny Bunimovich said at the news conference Monday. "I think that bringing into the 21st century — into other countries — traditions that no longer coincide with contemporary perception of humanity, is an absurdity."

The head of Moving Together, Vasily Yakimenko, pledged Monday that the bullfight would not take place.

"We will fight to the end," he said, adding that the organization had applied for permission to stage a mass protest by the stadium during the scheduled shows.

Earlier this month, Patriarch Alexy II also condemned the idea of holding a bullfight in Moscow as cruel and alien to Russian culture.

The event's organizers, however, have remained adamant.

"We have not yet seen any documents from the mayor's office so far. But if the ban is really to take place we will fight it in court," Agapov said, adding that if the shows are canceled, the city would face a costly legal suit by the organizers' insurers.

Agapov said that out of 30,000 available tickets, some 10,000 were already sold. Ticket prices range from 300 rubles to 1,800 rubles.