Stones to relocate concert to spare horses

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BELGRADE - The Rolling Stones have asked to change the venue for a concert in Belgrade to spare hundreds of horses from enduring a potentially traumatic experience.

The July 14 concert was due to be held at the Serbian capital's Hippodrome racetrack until animal protection society ORCA complained the noise would traumatize the 300 horses kept in the nearby stables.

Reaction to the story of the horses became heated after the news media reported that local hostlers had said they were ready to sedate the animals to keep them calm during the concert.

"The concert will not take place on the Hippodrome," Raka Maric, manager of Music Star Production, told Reuters.

In a letter to ORCA, the organizers said they had been victims of bad publicity, and it was all much ado about nothing.

"The Rolling Stones' band members are great animal lovers," Maric said in the letter. "We didn't manage to convince The Stones' management that the concert would not harm the horses."

The band has never played in Serbia. A 2003 concert was cancelled due to the assassination of then prime minister Zoran Djindjic, and a 2006 date scrapped after guitarist Keith Richards suffered a head injury while on vacation.

The likeliest new venue for the concert is the Usce park at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. The open space has hosted concerts and big gatherings in the past, such as a rally of the late nationalist strongman Slobodan Milosevic in 1989.
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