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Dear Editor:
In February of this year, the Kirov Opera and Ballet Orchestra entered the US under a standard P-1 Visa to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. They did so with the blessing of the American Federation of Musicians, which has a long-standing respect and encouragement of such cultural exchanges. Unfortunately, the Kirov chose to exploit that goodwill by recording a film score for the upcoming Paramount film "K-19: The Widowmaker" during their visit, clearly violating the terms of their visa.

According to AFM President Thomas Lee, the Federation alerted the INS, as well as members of the House and Senate subcommittees on Immigration, providing all parties with relevant documentation supporting this claim. The INS assured the Federation that a full and thorough investigation into the matter would take place.

"Despite this assurance, the INS has allowed the Kirov back into the US for performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera," said Lee. "In doing so, the INS is essentially rewarding the Kirov Orchestra for their previous unlawful activity. Since the INS has ignored the AFM's advisory opinion that future visas for the Kirov not be approved-indeed the INS never bothered to inform the AFM, nor entered into any further communication with us on the matter-we can only conclude that the promised investigation never took place."

The INS has rightly come under fire, most recently for approving the visas of two September 11th terrorists, prompting widespread calls for reform. However, added Lee, given subsequent developments in the Kirov's case, it would appear to the AFM that the rubber-stamp mentality of the INS is still firmly in place. "Considering the Kirov's track record, we find this an insult not only to our membership, but also to working Americans everywhere who have fought hard for fair wages and standards in their respective industries."

The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada is the largest organization in the world dedicated to representing the interests of professional musicians. Whether it is negotiating fair agreements, protecting ownership of recorded music, securing benefits such as health care and pension, or lobbying our legislators-the AFM is committed to raising industry standards and placing the professional musician in the foreground of the cultural landscape. For more information, contact Theresa Naglieri at (212) 869-1330 ext. 218 or visit the website at

Honore Stockley
for American Federation of Musicians