From Human Rights Watch
Russian authorities have been interfering with performances of rappers and other musicians popular with younger audiences, forcing them to cancel concerts in acts of censorship that violate freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today.
According to Meduza, an independent online media outlet, from October to December 2018, at least 36 performances in cities across Russia were cancelled due to official intervention. Many of the targeted performers are part of Russia’s rap and hip-hop scene, and several are punk rock or electronic groups. In most cases, the authorities claimed they were upholding laws protecting children from the promotion of suicide, narcotics, and other harmful substances. In some cases, they claimed performances risked violating Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda.”
“Russia’s authorities are censoring music under the guise of protecting children,” said Tanya Lokshina, Europe and Central Asia associate director at Human Rights Watch.
The concerts were cancelled or broken up by police, Federal Security Service (FSB) agents, local prosecutors’ offices, municipal authorities, and Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer protection bureau.
Typically, the authorities pressured venue managers to cancel performances by issuing official warnings citing child protection or threatening to close the sites if the concerts went ahead. Officials also used such pretexts as alleged bomb scares and sanitation violations. In some cases, complaints filed by groups of concerned citizens apparently triggered the authorities’ actions.
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