Russian rappers, other artists targeted in crackdown

MOSCOW — When the Russian “dark rave” duo Nastya Kreslina and Nikolay Kostylev stepped off the train for their gig in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, the police were waiting on the frozen platform. They were asked for their passports, Kostylev was handcuffed and they were whisked away to the local police station.

There, the police claimed they’d received an anonymous call about drug possession. But Kreslina and Kostylev, whose experimental performances as the electronic duo IC3PEAK feature provocative, morbid and often gruesome themes, say the real reason for their arrest is their art.

During their Russia-wide tour, which began last month and has spanned venues from the Volga River city of Kazan to far eastern Siberia, six of their 11 concerts have been cancelled. Club owners have been pressured not to host them and threatened with fines and closures.

“We have received no official statements, no letters, nothing,” Kostylev told The Associated Press of the harassment. “These are just ratty methods of fighting against art.”

In recent months, Russian musicians have experienced a spike in pressure from the authorities, with a string of concert cancellations and arrests that have brought an outcry from critics who see it as the latest expression of censorship against Russian artists.

The crackdown evokes Soviet-era restrictions on the music scene, when Communist Party officials drove rock musicians deemed an ideological threat underground. More recently it follows the 2012 jailing of Pussy Riot punk band members and other heavy-handed moves by President Vladimir Putin’s government to tighten control over the nation’s cultural scene — reflecting uneasiness with the musicians’ broad reach and challenge to official policies.

Last month, a rapper known as Husky, whose videos have garnered more than 6 million views on YouTube, was arrested after he staged an impromptu performance when his show was shut down in the southern city of Krasnodar.

The 25-year-old rapper, known for his lyrics about poverty, corruption and police brutality, was preparing to take to the stage on Nov. 21 when local prosecutors warned the venue that his act had elements of what they termed “extremism.”

Husky climbed onto a car, surrounded by hundreds of fans, and chanted “I will sing my music, the most honest music!” before he was taken away by police.

A court sentenced Husky to 12 days in jail on charges of hooliganism, but he was released four days later — hours before a solidarity concert in Moscow by a group of popular hip hop artists protesting his detention.

However, the official pressure on artists has continued.

On Nov. 30, rapper Gone.Fludd announced two concert cancellations, citing pressure from “every police agency you can imagine,” while popular hip hop artist, Allj, cancelled his show in the Arctic city of Yakutsk after receiving threats of violence.

Other artists have been affected as well — pop sensation Monetochka and punk band Friendzona were among those who had their concerts shut down by the authorities last month.

In IC3PEAK’s case, besides their Dec. 1 detention in Siberia, the artists have been hounded for weeks by the police and the Federal …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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