Russian Band Accused of Spreading 'Propaganda of Alcohol Abuse' With Its Viral, Vodka-Filled Video

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The accusation is symptomatic of the country's continuing crackdown on the arts.

Russian officials have launched a probe into a recent video by the controversial band Leningrad, fronted by Sergei Shnurov, for alleged "propaganda of alcohol abuse," marking the first accusation of its kind against a major artist.

Leningrad’s video for the song "To Drink in St. Pete" was released earlier this month and immediately went viral, generating over 10 million views on YouTube.

The video features several people from various backgrounds quitting their jobs to aimlessly roam the streets of St. Petersburg and drink vodka.

The city's prosecutor's office opened a probe into the video following a complaint from local legislator Yevgeny Marchenko, who claimed the video contained "propaganda of alcohol abuse."

The probe is in line with a recent trend of introducing restrictions on music, cinema, theater and literature in Russia. Over the last few years, restrictions on showing people smoking and consuming alcohol have been introduced, as well as a ban on profanity in public performances of songs and theater plays and movie screenings.

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However, no artists have faced any problems so far, including Leningrad, which routinely uses profanity in its lyrics.

Regulations regarding propaganda of alcohol abuse are vague in Russia, and the investigation into the video by Leningrad, a band known for their total lack of political correctness, is likely to show how serious the authorities are about trying to censor the arts.

Shnurov reacted to the situation in a sarcastic way, publishing a photo of Marchenko on his Instagram account and calling him "a warrior of the good."

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Meanwhile, the controversy around the video already has its first casualty. On May 24, the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that Viktor Kononov, St. Petersburg's tourism chief who originally praised the video for "promoting the city," has been fired.