RUSSIA

Fans and artists show support for 'hooligan' rapper

Noize MC, Russia’s most prominent rapper, was condemned to 10 days in prison for hooliganism. Other artists and fans have condemned the actions of the police. Read more...

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Noize MC concert in Blagoveschensk, 21 February 2010. Photo posted on flickr by Alexandr Sherstobitov.

Noize MC, one of Russia’s most prominent rappers, was condemned to 10 days in prison for hooliganism after mocking the police during a concert on July 31 in Volgograd. He called them "animals with red headbands" and dedicated his song "Kuri Bambuk" — about the ineffectiveness and corruption of Russia police — to them. His arrest has caused a stir in some circles in Russia.

A group of well-known figures, including journalist Artyom Troitsky, actor Aleksei Devotchenko, and members of the rock groups Auktsion, Televizor, and NEP wrote an open letter of protest to the authorities demanding his release. They also claimed that the arrest constituted censorship, prohibited under Article 20 of the Russian Constitution, and insisted that the police stop interfering with arts and culture.  

Prominent figures of Russian popular culture are not the only ones to rally to the support of Vanya (Vanya is the nickname for Ivan, Noize MC’s real name). Young fans have also been expressing their support, as our Observer in Volgograd explains.

Video of the 31 July concert posted on YouTube.

"Every Russian may one day find himself in Ivan's position"

Mikhail Borzykin, Televizor rock-band and author of the open letter of protest.

Noize MC is currently in a situation which is familiar to many Russian rock-musicians. There is increasing censorship, particularly on the part of the police. The open letter I've initiated comes from the uneasiness I feel because of the increasing impunity of the police. I feel empathy for Ivan Alekseev and share his resentment of the Volgograd police provocation and their interference with his concert. But also I consider this case another example of the state machinery despotism toward the citizens.

It concerns everybody, not just musicians. Every Russian may one day find himself in Ivan's position. In the last few years, things like this have been happening all across Russia. That's why it's so important to attract society's attention to this case. Otherwise we're consigned to a war between the people and the police."

"We support Vanya."

Serge is a Noize MC fan from Volgograd.

Lots of Volgograd Noize MC's fans are angry about his detention. We support Vanya. On the 4th August, 40 or 50 people, mainly teenagers, went to the court building. There were more of us, but some were afraid of the police who had gathered around and left before anything started. Just as we were about to start a demonstration the police charged. They took us to the police station where they told us that we are extremists who had organized an unsanctioned meeting.

Eventually we were released and went to get Vanya some food. Then we divided into two groups and went to the prison. I was in the first group. We were arrested whilst still far away from the prison. The second group was arrested right at the prison doors, so we couldn't give the parcel to Noize.

We were taken to the police station for a second time, where they interrogated us in small groups for three hours, asking us things like “So you support the things Ivan has said?” and “Do you want to be placed in the prison cell with him?” Then they showed us a cell and told that Vanya was kept there. It was cramped, dirty, dark and stinky. The following day they charged one of our group with organizing an illegal meeting and fined him 1,500 roubles."