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Russia Begins Cracking Down on Rappers, Citing ‘Risks of Extremism’

Over the last few weeks, Russian authorities have been cracking down on local rappers, accusing them of undermining young people's morals with their lyrics.

Over the last few weeks, Russian authorities have been cracking down on local rappers, accusing them of undermining young people’s morals with their lyrics.

Last week, prominent rapper Dmitry Kuznetsov, known under his stage name Husky, was sentenced to 12 days in jail in the South Russian city of Krasnodar. After learning that his show in the city had been cancelled on short notice, Husky climbed on top of a car parked in front of the venue and started performing.

After less than a minute of an impromptu show, he was detained by police and sentenced for disturbing public order. On Monday, an appeals court canceled the sentence, and Husky was released after serving just a few days.

However, his jailing sent a shock wave through the local rap scene as it came as the most recent manifestation of what appears to be authorities’ crackdown on Russian rappers.


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In Krasnodar, police explained the cancellation of Husky’s show by “risks of extremism.” Earlier, the rapper’s show in the Volga region city of Tolyatti was cancelled after alleged pressure on organizers from local law enforcers who again were unhappy about his lyrics.

Last month, Moscow’s prosecutor’s office launched a probe into the lyrics of two other rappers, Gnoyny and Khan Zamai, stating they might contain anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi statement, which both artists denied.

The actions of police and prosecutors seem to be in line with statements from high-profile legislators who have recently attacked local rappers.

Last week, legislator Vladimir Milonov called on the country’s interior minister to scrutinize rapper Allj, claiming his lyrics promoted the wrong values among teenagers.


Along the same lines, Yelena Drapeko, a member of the culture committee at the State Duma, the lower chamber of Russian parliament, slammed Russian rappers in general for using profanity, which she described as “horrible curses.”

Over the last few years, Russia’s various conservative activist groups have criticized popular musicians. Their accusations of spreading harmful ideas among youths have led to cancellation of concerts and entire music festivals.

Meanwhile, in an act of solidarity with colleagues facing pressure from authorities, three other well-known local rap artists, Oxxxymiron, Basta and Noize MC, played a show in Moscow on Monday, defending rappers’ rights for free speech.