Vladimir Putin Orders Russian Government to Support Pop Music Amid Rap Crackdown

Vladimir Putin
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the nation on Feb. 20, 2019 in Moscow, Russia. 

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has ordered that measures aimed at supporting youth music should be developed, in a move believed to be triggered by a recent crackdown on local rappers.

"The president's administration shall organize a discussion with members of the expert community and expert groups on forms of state support for contemporary popular music, including genres that are in demand among youth audiences," reads the president's order, addressed to Sergei Kiriyenko, first deputy head of the president's administration and quoted by Russian news agency Interfax.   

The deadline for submitting proposals for state support for youth music has been set for September 1.

The president's order comes just weeks after a controversy caused by a wave of cancellations of shows by popular youth artists, accused by local authorities of undermining young people's morals with their lyrics.

Last Fall, several shows by the likes of Husky, GONE.Fludd and IC3PEAK were cancelled across Russia, and probes into some rappers' lyrics for possible extremist content were launched.

There were also unconfirmed reports that the federal security service, known under its Russian acronym FSB, is compiling an unofficial blacklist of artists whose show should be banned because of potentially harmful lyrics. Incidentally, the rappers in question didn't express anti-government stances, and accusations were mostly focused on alleged propaganda of alcohol and drug abuse.

Meanwhile, the country's senior officials apparently weren't amused with the crackdown on popular youth artists. Putin was quoted as saying that banning shows was the wrong approach, and Kiriyenko dismissed the local authorities' actions as "stupidity."

The controversy also led to a discussion of the issue at the State Duma, the lower chamber of Russian Parliament, last December, featuring legislators and rappers Ptakha, Zhigan and Pra. Nothing concrete came out of the discussion, except for the idea of government grant to youth artists was floated.

Now, government grants could become one of the forms of support for youth music, ordered by Putin.

So far, the Russian government hasn't run any programs for supporting contemporary popular music. However, there has been small support for non-contemporary music as part of funding programs for classical culture, administered by the country's culture ministry.