Russian pop stars protest against plans for patriotic artist incubator

Russian pop stars protest against plans for patriotic artist incubator
Singer Filipp Kirkorov in 2009 (Image: Vladimir Agafonkin under a CC licence)

29 July 2015

An array of pop stars and music producers have come out in protest against a proposal to create an incubator for patriotic Russian musicians.

Singers Dima Bilan, Grigory Leps and Filipp Kirkorov and rapper Timati are among the stars who have written to President Vladimir Putin, urging him to stop a plan to sell the majority stake in media holding company Russian Media Group to state-run concert organiser Goskontsert.

The Russian government is considering a proposal to create a media holding company to promote Russian singers with pro-Kremlin views, supporting the government’s ideological goals by promoting homegrown artists and collaborating with Russia’s major music television channels. The company would comprise five radio stations and a music TV channel.

In their letter to Mr Putin, the stars described the plans as “dubious”, citing fears regarding possible changes to management. According to the letter, the changes could have “negative consequences for the development of the music industry as a whole”. In addition, some of the singers expressed bewilderment at the need for such a patriotic media group.

“We are already perfectly well trained: we live in our country, support our president and everything that happens in our country,” singer Filipp Kirkorov later stated.

“I don’t understand — why turn a commercial station into a state one? It already performs all the tasks related to ideology,” preeminent producer Iosif Prigozhin concurred.

The spokesman for President Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said that the president does not have authority over commercial deals and advised the authors of the letter to appeal to the owners of Russian Media Group.