Chechen Culture Ministry Will Regulate the Republic’s Entertainers

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 37

The Chechen Ministry of Culture on September 24 published a list of rules that local artists will have to follow in order to receive permission to perform. From now on, only artists whose repertoires “respond to the demands of artistic taste, and also the norms of the Chechen mentality and upbringing” will be allowed to perform and appear on television. Specially created art councils will be set up to monitor observation of these rules.

Kommersant reported on September 25 that according to the Chechen Ministry of Culture’s news rules, artists will have to present their repertoire for inspection by an artistic council set up under the Grozny Philharmonic Society. The final decision on whether repertoire is acceptable will be made by an artistic council under the Chechen Ministry of Culture. The new rules warn performers against doing “re-mixes” or contemporary “remakes” of traditional folk songs. In addition, in order to perform at venues in the republic or on Chechen television, artists must dress “in accordance with Vainakh culture.”

One of the authors of the new rules, Chechen Culture Minister Dikalu Muzykaev, told Kommersant: “Until now, God only knows what has been happening on the popular stage – anyone who wanted sang however and whatever they wanted.” He said the authorities were unhappy with the large number of popular performers “who are not ashamed of anything – neither plagiarism nor tastelessness nor open vulgarity.” Muzykaev added: “We could not tolerate this practice: first of all, it was creating a distorted picture of Chechen art and culture, and, secondly, it reflected on the novice artists themselves, who became accustomed to a lack of taste.”

According to Kommersant, Muzykaev said members of the art councils would not turn into censors and would not use their positions to settle scores with “disagreeable artists.” The councils, he said, consist of “expert and authoritative specialists in the area of culture, whose main task is to raise the level of culture of our variety entertainment.” Muzykaev also said that the new rules would not apply to entertainers on tour from other Russian regions. “We do not plan to interfere in the repertoire of artists on tour, although we are not indifferent to what they will be performing at republican venues,” he said.

Kommersant noted that the council of imams in neighboring Dagestan drew up a list of pop stars whose presence in Dagestan they considered to be undesirable. The list includes Verka Serdyuchka (the name of the female character played by Ukrainian singer and comedian Andriy Danylko), Russian pop singer Filipp Kirkorov, openly gay Russian pop singers Boris Moiseyev and Sergei Penkin, the pop group Guests from the Future and the girl group VIA-Gra.

Kommersant quoted veteran music critic Artemy Troitsky as saying: “I want to remind you that during the Soviet period many of the best artists fled abroad, not wanting to experience all the delights of ‘litovki’ (prior censorship of musical works in the USSR), art councils, censorship offices. The best Chechen artists may now do the same thing. However, it is possible that Ramzan Kadyrov will make it so that only those [artists] he personally likes will remain in the republic.” Last October, Kadyrov flew in Russian pop stars, including Filipp Kirkorov, for his 30th birthday party at his home outside the town of Gudermes (Chechnya Weekly, October 5, 2006).