On November 2, during a tour of Ukrainian group "Ocean Elzy" in Saratovo (Russia), officials of the Federal Migration Service department conducted an unscheduled inspection and fined Ukrainian musicians for 18 thousand rubles for violation of the article 18.15 of the Russian Administrative Code (illegal engagement of foreign citizens in labor activity).

"The inspection revealed that the musicians did not have and did not apply for permits for labor activity on the territory of the Russian Federation," the report reads.

Reacting to the event, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine has stated its readiness to consider the issue on legal control of touring activity in Ukraine and on licensing procedure.

Such norm had been in force before December 2, 2010, but then the amendments were adopted, and the Law of Ukraine "On employment" now stipulates that artists can perform in Ukraine without any permits. Moreover, the Ministry of Culture does not have any data about the number of touring artists on the territory of Ukraine.

In this respect, "Motherland" deputy Vyacheslav Kyrylenko has appealed to the Ministry for income and fees with a request to control whether Russian artists have respective licenses for employment in Ukraine and whether they pay proper taxes. According to him, 70% of touring artists in Ukraine are Russian performers, who do not have any permits and do not pay any fees.

Thus, the question is whether Ukraine should introduce licenses for touring activity in Ukraine. Experts and politicians answer:

Ihor Kurylyov, tour director of Sofia Rotaru:

- Once there was a similar initiative to introduce permits for touring activity for Russian artists and to allot a part of the collected money for development of Ukrainian cultures. However, it did not find support in the parliament.

I think this incident has received so much attention due to the latest trade conflicts with Russia. But obviously, if Russia asks our artists to apply for permits, Ukraine should introduce similar norm as well, considering that our musicians touring in Russia are not so many, while Russian artists touring in Ukraine are numerous.

Kuzma Skryabin, Ukrainian artist:

- Permits for touring activity must be introduced, but not as a reaction to what happened to "Ocean Elzy". Otherwise it will be interpreted as aggression. I think such norm should have been introduced long time ago. There are many foreign artists touring in Ukraine, more than Ukrainians abroad, and the country loses a vast amount of money.

Every state welcoming touring artists has a right to demand taxpaying. It is a normal practice. As for documents and permits, it is a matter of bureaucratic procedures and I cannot tell you much about it, though I clearly understand that taxes must be paid. I do not think this case is a precedent. The plain fact is that considering the latest conflicts between Ukraine and Russia the mass media takes advantage of the situation to make headlines, but I do not approve such approach. 

Dmytro Prykordonnyi, director of the coalition of performers and producers of Ukraine:

- Musicians of "Ocean Elzy" were fined for the same reason why concerts of some American artists were cancelled - changes in legislation. It happens sometimes, you know, that countries amend legislation and change employment procedures for foreign citizens. However, I believe the Ministry of Culture should not introduce any permits for touring activity. No world country has similar practice.
Moreover, I doubt Ukraine should introduce touring fees for foreign artists, as it is unclear where this money will go after. Ticket prices are high enough in Ukraine. Besides, ticket prices include VAT, which does not exist either in Russia or Belarus.

Adam Martyniuk, MP (Communist faction), member of the parliamentary committee on national security and defense:

- I think we should protect better our Ukrainian artists. Mass concerts are often so full of foreign crap, that no surprise our young generation lacks basic culture. At the same time, things should be different for famous and respected artists. There must be a clear distinction.

As for "Ocean Elzy", we must analyze true reasons first. There is a big chance that this "incident" is just a slight procedural hitch, but the press turns it into an international scandal. We are adults and must understand that things can be really simple. 

Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, MP ("Motherland"), head of the parliamentary committee on culture an spirituality:

- In Ukraine, more than 85% of all tours are held by foreign artists, thus this market requires tax regulations. In fact, in the spring of 2013 we submitted two draft bills on introduction of touring fees for non-residents. We propose 17% fee rate, but at the same time it will not be collected from symphony and philharmonic orchestra, choirs and academic theaters. Collected means will go to special funds of state and local budgets in support of Ukrainian touring artists. Moreover, we propose to introduce a temporary income tax exemption  for Ukrainian enterprises - organizers of tours, culture centers, on-stage performance groups and individual performers. I think we should focus on this initiative, rather than working permits.  


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