On November 30, the rapper Gone.Fludd announced that two of his concerts in Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude have been postponed, citing pressure from “every police agency you can imagine.” And this isn’t an isolated affair: for the past several weeks, under various pretexts, law enforcement has canceled concerts by Allj, IC3PEAK, and Friendzone. After venues were pressured into shutting down his concert in Krasnodar, the rapper Husky was sentenced to almost two weeks in jail for ignoring police orders (he was later released, apparently thanks to the Kremlin’s intervention). Concerts in Russia are fairly easy to stop, but the music itself is thankfully more resilient. Meduza offers the following recommended listening in a time of rising censorship.
On November 30, the Ukrainian government announced that it was banning all Russian men between the ages of 16 and 60 from entering the country until December 26, when President Poroshenko’s recent martial law decree is scheduled to end. Meduza spoke to several Russians who landed at Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv immediately after the ban was imposed. These individuals say they were denied entry into Ukraine on the formal grounds that border officials are admitting neither men nor women.
Igor Lebedev, the deputy speaker of the State Duma (and the son of firebrand politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky), currently finds himself in a public spat with Sergey Neverov, the head of United Russia’s Duma faction. What happened? Neverov called out Lebedev on Facebook for vacationing in Miami during “regional week,” when lawmakers are supposed to meet with their constituents.
In mid-November, a grade school in Yekaterinburg held a week-long drawing contest called “Tolerant World” in honor of International Tolerance Day. In all, about 17 students between the fifth and 11th grade took part in the event.
In a new investigative report for the website Proekt, journalists Mikhail Rubin and Roman Badanin explain “how the authorities turned Telegram into television” by colonizing and buying out the medium. Rubin and Badanin say Kremlin officials were initially worried about the influence of Telegram channels on Russia’s political system, and in late 2016 they started leaking insider scoops to certain journalists, to see where on the network the information emerged. Instead, the Kremlin quickly discovered that the people behind these channels are generally “scam artists” capitalizing on Russia’s “information shortage” by “creating the illusion that certain informed insiders” would tell the truth behind online nicknames. Ironically, nobody more than state officials themselves wanted this to be true. Meduza summarizes Rubin and Badanin’s report for Proekt.
“I used to love 80s rock, and I’m having constant deja vu from what’s happening now. It’s all come full circle: again it’s executive committees and bans… It’s a lot like the 70s and 80s,” Miron Fyodorov (better known as the rapper “Oxxxymiron”) said on November 26 from the stage at “Glavclub” during a concert in support of Dmitry Kuznetsov, the rapper “Husky” who spent several days behind bars in Krasnodar, where he defied police and performed for fans atop a parked car. Fyodorov was channeling the frustration felt by many Russian fans of rap and hip hop, among whom it’s become increasingly common to compare today’s banned and disrupted concerts to the crackdown in the early 1980s on underground Soviet rock music. For example, the Federal Security Service’s alleged “blacklist” of contemporary musicians recalls similar lists drawn up by the Soviet police. To find out how close today’s environment really comes to the music scene 35 years ago, Meduza spoke to two musicians whose concerts were broken up by the police in the early 1980s.
On November 28, Russian anti-corruption activist and opposition politician Alexey Navalny unveiled his latest project to undermine the Kremlin’s control over the Russian government. The new initiative, “Smart Vote,” will offer voting instructions in regional elections to maximize the odds of defeating the country’s ruling political party, United Russia. The project will be active for next year’s gubernatorial race in St. Petersburg and Moscow’s City Duma election.
On November 22, Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation revealed that Rossiya-1 television anchor Sergey Brilev has had British citizenship since at least 2001. A few days later, Brilev verified this information, insisting that he’s violated no laws, saying, “An employee at a federal state unitary enterprise isn’t a state official […] and I have no access to classified information.” In fact, Brilev’s second citizenship means he broke the law twice by illegally joining two public councils, first at Russia’s Interior Ministry and then at Russia’s Defense Ministry.
Not far from the Baumanskaya subway station in Moscow, there’s a small two-story building attached to a brick warehouse that dates back to the 19th century. The warehouse was recently converted into lofts, but the annex houses a medical center called “Best Clinic,” which offers a wide variety of services ranging from dentistry and psychotherapy to surgery and cosmetic work.
Ukrainian naval vessels entered the Kerch Strait and threatened to fire on Russia’s Coast Guard, according to an official statement by Russia’s Federal Security Service.