Russian Artists Decry Patriotic Pop Star Incubator, Allege Proposal Has Ulterior Motives

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery on June 1, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. 

Russian artists and producers have addressed President Vladimir Putin asking him to step in and prevent the creation of a "patriotic media group," which was announced earlier this month.

An impressive group of Kremlin-loyal artists and producers, including singers Iosif Kobzon, Stas Mikhailov, Grigory Leps, Filipp Kirkorov, Nikolai Rastorguyev and Timaty, sent Putin a letter in which they called the proposed deal "dubious" and argued that they are already patriotic enough, and there is no need in forming a media group focused specifically on "ideologically correct" artists.

Earlier this month, Kremlin-friendly entrepreneur Vladimir Kiselev and Olga Plaksina, chairman of the board of the Russian Media Group (RMG), addressed Putin, calling for the creation of a media group based on RMG's FM radio stations and TV network, which would promote local artists and get the right ideological messages across. Plaksina, an appointed chairman of the board, owns no shares in the company and supposedly expects to benefit from the deal by helping to secure it.

However, the signees of the letter insisted that the deal's sole purpose would be helping Kiselev to acquire RMG's assets.

"Why invent the wheel?" Iosif Prigozhin, a well-known producer and one of the letter's signees, told Billboard. "There is no need to create something that already exists. We already are patriotic enough."

"We are against a deal that would give dubious people like Kiselev control of RMG," he went on to say. "If he wants to acquire RMG, he should just say so, not to use patriotism as a cover. We want transparency and fairness."

The Kremlin's spokesman reacted to the letter by saying that Putin doesn’t have the authority to either facilitate or prevent any deals.

Meanwhile, Kiselev launched a counterattack on the signees on the letter. "They are scared because an experienced person will come to the industry," he was quoted as saying by the business newspaper Kommersant.

According to Kiselev, on four FM stations run by RMG, Western music prevails. "We want Russian artists to be played," he said.