Russia: ‘Government fights outspoken musicians, says rock singer

Russia:
‘Government fights outspoken musicians’, says rock singer

Music censorship exists in full glory in Russia, lead singer of the Russian rock group Televizor, Mikhail Borzykin, told SPINearth.tv

‘The Russian government fights outspoken musicians through censorship,’ said the rock singer. However, “today’s censorship does not happen directly. Instead of making a list to include certain songs or artists from being played on the radio or at local clubs, the government scares the owners with sudden closures, higher rent fees or other ‘violations’,” Mikhail Borzykin told SPINearth.tv’s reporter Yuri over the phone when asked to describe the problems that exist in Russia today.

“You don’t even need to ban things, it’s just that the ten television shows that used to invite me don’t exist anymore, and the five radio stations that were interested in Televizor’s music have changed their format. You can call it a ‘velvet ban’,” Mikhail Borzykin said in his exclusive interview with SPINearth.tv, which is SPIN Magazine’s new global music site.

No club owner, television or radio programming director will admit openly to censorship pressure from Kremlin, explains Yuri in his article, but, as the rock singer Mikhail Borzykin told him: “Most show-business managers are connected, through rent or other financial obligations, to government officials&ldquo.

Mikhail Borzykin believes “the authorities are immune, uncontrollable and absolutely immoral.”

Banned from live performances
In 2008, Televizor got into a conflict with a Saint Petersburg television channel that asked them to do a live performance, then canceled it after reviewing the songs Borzykin planned to sing. The channel said it was because the songs contained inappropriate words, but Borzykin called it political censorship.

His rock group Televizor has been performing political songs for 25 years, covering both Soviet and Russian regimes. The band formed in 1984 in St. Petersburg. Televizor means ‘Television’ in Russian.

SPINearth.tv’s reporter noted that “most of the Russia’s media is state owned, meaning it’s Kremlin, not the public, who ultimately decides what is broadcast. Banning an artist from public performance for speaking out against government officials is as old as public performing itself.

In 1986, Mikhail Borzykin wrote a, now classic, protest song ‘Your Daddy is a Fascist’ in regards to the Soviet government, which caused Televizor to be banned repeatedly from live performances. Today, the administration is different but the song stands true, easily applicable to what is happening in the country right now.”

Arrests
Sometimes, when performing it at concerts, Mikhail Borzykin changes the lyrics to ‘Your Putin is a Fascist’. The outcome is the same as it was twenty years ago. Police rush Televizor’s shows, arresting the lead singer, vowing to press charges. “At last year’s Rock for Freedom festival, there were 3,000 police watching our performance with only 1,500 actual spectators on hand.”

The performance went off without a problem, but Mikhail Borzykin was taken away, rather quickly, from the venue by friends.

The song lyrics may be a little risqué, but when police openly accept bribes, in fact, encouraging them, and when government officials are let off the hook for murder, no lyric seems harsh enough to express the outrage of people, wrote Yuri in the article.

He quoted from one of Mikhail Borzykin’s song lyrics which reflect an incident involving the son of the then-defense minister Sergei Ivanov, who killed a pedestrian on a crosswalk in Moscow in 2005, and was taken to court which eventually dropped all charges:

    “When a jerk in a jeep hits your father
    And he is the son of a defense minister
    Nobody will touch him
    The OMON police truncheons will be the pay-off
    for the right to say all this…”



Mikhail Borzykin

Photo: Spinearth.tv


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SpinEarth.tv – 19 August 2009:

‘Under the Paw of Big Bear: Music Censorship in Russia’

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