Putin wants govt to "take charge" of rap music

By: bbc
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the government to "take charge" of rap music after a number of concerts were cancelled across the country.

Efforts to ban rap were "impossible" and so the state should play a greater role in controlling it, he said.

The Ministry of Culture would find the best way to "navigate" youth concerts, he added.

His comments come after Russian rapper Husky was arrested after several of his concerts were cancelled.

In December, authorities in the southern city of Krasnodar called off his planned performance for "extremism".

The musician - real name Dmitry Kuznetsov - was then jailed for 12 days after performing for fans on the roof of a car.

Speaking at a meeting of the presidential Council for Culture and Art in St Petersburg, President Putin said the problem should be approached "with great caution".

"However, what I really agree with is that if it is impossible to stop it, it should be taken over and navigated in a particular way," he said.

The president expressed particular concern about drug abuse among young people.

"Rap and other modern forms of art are rested upon three pillars - sex, drugs and protest," he said. "I am most worried about drugs. This is the way towards the degradation of a nation."

Mr Putin also said he was worried about bad language in rap, saying he had spoken to a linguist about it.

While she had explained to him that swearing is "a part of our language", Mr Putin compared it to the human body, joking that "we have all sorts of body parts, and it's not like we put them on display all the time".

The Russian government has long had a complicated relationship with music.

Under the Soviet Union meanwhile, most Western pop and rock music was frowned on and some Russian rock musicians faced persecution.

Even classical musicians clashed with the state. Composer Dmitri Shostakovich was denounced twice under the leadership of Joseph Stalin.

Feminist protest band Pussy Riot claims Russia's intelligence service poisoned member Pyotr Verzilov earlier this year.