Russia: Librarian found guilty for holding “extremist literature”

On 5 June 2017, Natalia Sharina, the former director of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow was given a four-year suspended sentence after being found guilty of “inciting hatred”, “embezzlement” and having “extremist literature” at the library, reported Amnesty International. Sharina was arrested in October 2015 when authorities confiscated books from the library that […]

Russia: Theatre, director’s home raided in fraud investigation

By Oksana Chelysheva The morning of 23 May 2017 in Russia began with news of a scandal that swept across social media – authorities searched the flat of Russian stage and film director Kirill Serebrennikov. Soon after, news came out that riot police raided Gogol Centre, the theatre that Serebrennikov has been artistic director of […]

Russia: Draft bill “protecting values” to be discussed by Duma

By Oksana Chelysheva Russia’s State Duma will discuss a bill at the end of May 2017 that would seek to “protect high important values” in public, extending to art venues and cultural establishments, including galleries, theatres and museums. In March 2017, Russia’s Civic Chamber, the country’s consultative civil society body tasked with analysing draft legislation […]

Ukraine: Russian Eurovision contestant banned over performance in Crimea

Ukraine’s security service has banned Russian singer Julia Samoilova from entering the country for the next three years due to her giving a performance in Crimea in 2015, thus not allowing her to compete in European song contest Eurovison taking place in capital Kiev in May 2017, reported BBC on 22 March 2017. Geneva-based Eurovision […]

Russia: Artistic freedom threatened by nationalist and orthodox groups

While Russian president Vladimir Putin vowed in a meeting with film directors and artists in early December 2016 to protect artistic freedom, he also said artists carry a responsibility not to offend religious believers, saying “there is a very narrow divide between dangerous shock value and freedom of creativity”, reported The New York Times on […]

Norway/Russia: Musician cuts song from concert due to Russian pressure

The Russian Consulate General in Kirkenes, a town in north-eastern Norway near the Russian border, has interfered with a literature festival in the area by voicing its concern over a sold-out concert to be held on 17 November 2016 by Norwegian folk musician Moddi and Russian Arkhangelsk Chamber Orchestra, reported The Barents Observer on 15 […]

Ukraine: Lawmakers vote against bill banning Russian artists

Lawmakers in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, voted against a bill that would have restricted all Russian artists who wanted to tour in the country, and would only have been allowed to do so if they submitted a written condemnation of “the occupation of Ukrianian territory” to promoters, reported Billboard on 7 October 2016. The […]

Russia: Theatres in an age of government intimidation

This article on the increasingly difficult environment theatres face for the content they stage from various Russian government bodies was originally published on 18 August 2015 by The Theatre Times, who have kindly allowed Freemuse to re-publish it here: Intimidation Tactics Caitlin Connell and Patrick Connelly have spent the summer in Moscow looking at the current […]

Russia: Music video censored for having same-sex kiss

A video by the British electronic band Years and Years for its single ‘Desire’ has been censored in Russia by blurring out a scene wherein the lead singer kisses another man, reported British magazine Digital Spy on 11 June 2016. Russia has been making headlines over its laws on homosexuality, including a law proposed in […]

Russia: Ministry censors theatre company’s festival performances

Government authorities have banned Russian independent theatre company Teatr.doc’s production of the play ‘Pushkin and Money’, scedduled to be part of a theatre festival on 12 June 2016 at the Moscow Hermitage Garden, reported The Calvert Journal on 13 June 2016. In a Deutsche Welle interview with the play’s director Anastasia Patlay, published on 13 June 2016, […]

Russia: Performance artist Pavlensky released with fine

The ‘art or arson’ court case against Pyotr Pavlensky for setting fire to the door of the Federal Security Service – the KGB successor – has finally come to a verdict at a Moscow court on 8 June 2016. Surprisingly Pavlensky was released, though he was at the same time sentenced to pay a fine of […]

Russia: Artist convicted to 16 months in prison for vandalism

A Moscow court found Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky guilty of vandalism, Dimitri Kozlov of the Associated Press reported on 19 May 2016. The artist was convicted for setting fire to car tires on Saint Petersburg’s Tripartite Bridge during a pro-Ukraine performance, titled ‘Freedom’, in February 2014. While the court sentenced Pavlensky to 16 months […]

Art Under Threat: Attacks on artistic freedom in 2015

Freemuse Annual Statistics on Censorship and Attacks on Artistic Freedom in 2015 Artistic freedom is under extreme pressure in far too many countries. The Freemuse annual report summarises censorship and threats on artistic freedom in 2015 in over 70 countries. In total, Freemuse registered 469 cases of censorship and attacks on artists and violations of […]

INSIGHT 2015 publication: Targeting the arts

» Read on Targeting the arts INSIGHT articles about controversies and conflicts over art in 2015 Documenting incidents of censorship has never been enough. From the very beginning Freemuse has attempted to put censorship of music and arts into a larger context. In 2015 we introduced INSIGHT – a series of articles providing readers with […]

Russia: Theatre director says culture ministry vets new plays

A prominent Russian director has said theatres are required to approve new plays with the culture ministry, raising concerns of a return to censorship in a more conservative cultural climate. Valery Fokin, the award-winning artistic director of St Petersburg’s Alexandrinsky theatre, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station classic plays were not subject to oversight, but […]

Russia: Political performance artist arrested

Pyotr Pavlensky, a 32-year-old performance artist from Saint Petersburg, was arrested in Moscow on 9 November 2015 after dousing the doors of the FSB, the Russian security agency, with gasoline and setting it ablaze as part of a political art performance he titled ‘Menace’. Later the same day, a Moscow court sentenced Pyotr Pavlensky to a […]

Russia: Art gallery owner evicted

Marat Guelman was handed an eviction notice to clear out of his rented exhibition space in Moscow’s Winzavod art centre by 5 November 2015. He was served the notice on 20 October 2015, just two days after he hosted an auction to help 12 people who were imprisoned for participating in a 2012 protest against […]

Russia: Exhibition in St. Petersburg censored and closed

A Belgian and a German artist have had an exhibition of their graphic novel shuttered in St. Petersburg’s Nabokov Museum, according to The Moscow Times. The artists, Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer, were displaying their work as part of an international comic, graphic novel and illustration festival called Boomfest, which has been held annually in […]

Russia: Music portal banned

The Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor has banned online music portal for offering the song ‘Kill a cop’ (‘Ubey menta’) by the Russian alternative rock band Psychea, according to the Calvert Journal. The chorus of the song reads: “Beat me, trample me, cut me to pieces — I’ve gone completely insane. The situation is getting […]

Russia: Art exhibition attacked and vandalised

On 26 August 2015, two people, a man and a woman, vandalised an art exhibition in Manège, an art exhibition hall in Manezhny Dvor in Moscow which has a history of controversy. This is Moscow Manège where the USSR Communist Party Secretary General Nikita Khruschov back in 1962 lambasted artists for their ‘degenerating art’. 80 […]

Russia: Film director sentenced 20 years in prison

A Russian court has sentenced the acclaimed Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov to 20 years in a maximum-security prison on multiple terrorism charges. The 39-year-old director denied all charges against him, saying they were politically motivated, and told the court on 19 August 2015 that a “trial by occupiers cannot be fair by definition”. Heather […]

Russia: Musicians protest against illegal police detentions

“Police is attacking artists, taking them to police stations, confiscating their instruments, giving them court summons, and the courts then appoint huge fines based on various articles, depending on their imagination,” wrote Oleg Mokryakov, a leader of one of the music collectives playing on Arbat street, on his Facebook page. On 28 June 2015 those […]

Russia: Cultural freedom under threat

In this article Lena Jonson, Head of the Russia Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm and author of the book ‘Art and protest in Putin’s Russia’, which was published in March 2015, describes that although censorship was forbidden by the Russian Constitution of 1993, since 2012 an informal ideological censorship has […]

Russia: Graphic novel about Holocaust banned for its cover

The American radio broadcaster NPR’s Robert Siegel talks with author and illustrator Art Spiegelman about how his book ‘Maus’, the very antithesis of Nazi propaganda, was purged from Moscow stores because of a swastika on the cover. » Sourced through from:

Russia: Theatre director fired for staging opera that offended church

Russia’s Ministry of Culture has fired the director and head of Novosibirsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre for having staged a Wagner opera which offended Orthodox believers. “What some perceive as a sophisticated work of art was interpreted as offensive blasphemy by others. The production of ‘Tannhauser’ has exposed the sharp divisions within Russian society,” wrote Ivan Nechepurenko in The […]

Russia: Culture Ministry to probe ‘blasphemous’ Novosibirsk opera

Russia’s Culture Ministry has announced plans to launch a probe into a beleaguered Novosibirsk production of Richard Wagner’s opera ‘Tannhäuser’, which has provoked the ire of certain powerful members of the Russian Orthodox Christian community. Director Timofei Kulyabin’s rendition of the opera has been performed at the theatre since December 2014. But then an administrative […]

Russia: Creators of ‘offensive’ Wagner opera acquitted

Two men who went on trial in Russia on 4 March 2015 over their staging of Richard Wagner’s ‘Tannhauser’ opera, which a senior Orthodox cleric complained was offensive to religious believers, were acquitted in court on 10 March 2015. Prosecutors said the modern-day staging, which fuelled anger among Orthodox Russians after it premiered in the […]

Ukraine: Three Russian films banned

Ukraine’s state cinema agency has banned three Russian films from being screened in the country, including the popular ‘Brother 2’, which was filmed 15 years ago. » Source:

Six countries ban ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ film

Countries that often object to sexual content – Malaysia, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and India – have banned ‘Fifty Shades’ from cinema theatres. Authorities in Russia’s North Caucasus have also banned the film. In Malaysia, the head of the film censorship board called it “more pornography than a movie”, according to Hollywood trade publication Variety. The […]

Russia, China and Turkey top yearly list of music freedom violations

Freemuse monitored and documented violations of freedom of expression for musicians on in 2014. Musicians around the world are facing imprisonment, attacks, and censorship in attempts by government and non-state actors to silence the music. In 2014, Freemuse registered a total number of 90 attacks and violations against musicians’ rights to musical freedom of expression. […]

Russia: Ban on films that ‘denigrate Russia’s culture’

Russia’s culture ministry has prepared new requirements for issuing exhibition licenses under which movies that “threaten national unity of the country or denigrate its culture” will be banned. The new date for enacting the requirements hasn’t been announced yet. Similarly, it is not clear who will be making decisions regarding films’ compliance with the requirements […]

Russia: Ukrainian film director detained seven months in Moscow

The Ukrainian film director and screenwriter Oleg Sentsov is accused of terrorism and liable to be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. On 11 December 2014 it is seven months since Oleg Sentsov was arrested in Crimea by the Russian secret service FSB. A trial has been set for 11 January 2015. On […]

Russia: Court bans music and artwork of American metal band

A Russian court ruled that translations of the American death metal band Cannibal Corpse’s lyrics and artwork should be banned because they “could damage the mental health of children” On 28 November 2014, Ufa’s Oktyabrsky district court approved prosecutors’ requests that Cannibal Corpse’s album artwork and any Russian translations of their lyrics be banned from […]

Russia: Moscow fringe theatre faces ‘censorship’ with eviction

Founded in the early years of Vladimir Putin’s rule, Teatr.Doc has made enemies with documentary work that explores the social and political fall out from Russia’s slide towards authoritarianism. In a move that has shaken the international theatrical community, the Moscow authorities have ordered Teatr.Doc to vacate the property on grounds that it had violated […]

Russia: The street artists that drive authorities mad

Russian street artists are twisting and testing the lines between art, activism and hooliganism. While most artists would define their various protest actions and expressions as art, or street art, the Russian authorities only see illegal hooliganism. This report goes behind the arts scenes in the country which became internationally known for its conflict between […]

United Kingdom: British-based Ukrainians call for ban of performers from Russia

Russian artists are facing international protests and bans in Europe for their support of Putin. A “soft power struggle” is making waves that extend beyond the two countries, reports Masha Egupova. By Masha Egupova When Russian singer Valeriya came to London to perform on 21 October 2014, no one expected a scandal. But as she […]

Russia: Moscow theatre company faces eviction by the city

On 15 October 2014, the Moscow Administration’s Property Department quietly terminated the lease contract with Teatr.Doc, a small 50-seat independent theatre company that has occupied the premises for the past 12 years. Russia’s art community was quick to respond to and protest the move, which they saw as politically motivated.  By Masha Egupova Activists and […]

Russia and Ukraine: Musicians caught between conflict, bitter rhetoric and outright bans

As the conflict in Ukraine unfolds, political borders turn into cultural borders, and artists on both sides suffer the consequences. Russians are banning Ukrainian artists from performing, and vice versa. By Masha Egupova On September 25, as Russian singer Andrei Makarevich was performing at the House of Music in Moscow, members of the unregistered nationalist […]

USA: Ai Weiwei exhibition features music by imprisoned musicians

A new exhibition by the acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei opened on 27 September 2014 on Alcatraz near San Fransisco, USA. It features music by Tibetan singer Lolo and Pussy Riot, highlighting threads which connect artists around the planet who face harassment, pressure, persecution, prosecution and even death for expressing their opinion and their art. […]

How Russia’s anti-profanity law is affecting independent filmmakers

In May 2014, the Russian Parliament passed a law banning profanity from theater, movies, public performances, music and books. It has been two months since the ban took effect on 1 July 2014, and filmmakers are still trying to grapple with how the law will have repercussions on their work and Russian culture at large. […]

Russia: Opera premiere cancelled after its composer was attacked

The premiere of a new opera in St. Petersburg has been cancelled after two venues refused to host it and the composer was savagely beaten and death threats were issued. The opera ‘New Jerusalem’ is composed by award-winning local composer Ilya Demutsky with librettist Artyom Suslov. The opera follows the actions of an individual who […]

Amnesty International on silencing of filmmakers: ‘Manuscripts Don’t Burn’

Steven W. Hawkins, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, and writer and film director Gregory Nava have written an article in Huffington Post’s The Blog about the silencing of filmmakers and other artists in countries such as China, Iran and Russia. “Freedom of expression is both an essential human right and a foundational requirement […]

Russia: Art historian says ‘ideological censorship’ is happening in Russia

In a candid interview with the Germany’s Deutsche Welle in May 2014, the Russian art historian Ekaterina Degot stated that freedom in Russia’s cultural sector is quickly diminishing: “A month ago, or even one week ago, I wouldn’t have told you what I’ll say to you now,” she said. “Independent-minded people urgently need support. What […]

Russia: Film about deportation of Chechens banned

Seventy years after Chechens were deported en masse to Central Asia on the orders of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, a film about the brutality of the operation has been banned, with officials citing the threat of provoking ethnic enmity. Russia’s Culture Ministry has also cited insufficient evidence to prove that the dramatic enactment is historically […]

Russia: Law bans swearing in arts

Russia’s predident Vladimir Putin has signed a new censorship bill into law, which means that artists and filmmakers in the country soon may find themselves in trouble for using profanity in “literature and arts, mass media products, at concerts, theatrical performances, entertaining events, as well as in films.” The law is expected to take effect […]

Russia: Film festival shut down

A human rights documentary film festival was shut down by government authorities in Russia on 5 May 2014 over what organizers say is censorship of controversial content. The May 32nd Film Festival had to cancel its opening event after Saint Petersburg officials claimed unlikely sounding local code violations. Fire inspectors shut down the venue hosting […]

Freemuse meets Pussy Riot: Punk is a great inspiration

There was a good deal of humour and a talk about the meaning of punk culture when original Pussy Riot members Masha and Nadya (Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova) met Freemuse Director Ole Reitov in front of an audience at a jam-packed Kulturhuset in Oslo, Norway, on 13 May 2014. Asked whether music has to […]

Russia: Pussy Riot members appeal sentence in Supreme Court

The sentence of controversial Pussy Riot punk band members has been appealed again. The band member Yekaterina Samutsevich has filed with Russia’s Supreme Court a supervisory appeal against the verdict. In August 2012, the Khamovnichesky District Court in Moscow sentenced Samutsevich and two other Pussy Riot members – Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – to […]

Russia: Musicians speak of censorship, persecution and viciousness

Violations of freedom of expression in Russia hit the frontpages of newspapers and websites all over the world in 2013 when two members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot were imprisoned. Many other music groups and artists in Russia face censorship and persecution – but their cases are never heard of outside of Russia. […]

Artist Alert: February 2014 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 14 March 2014: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Russia: Pussy Riot members detained three times

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who spent nearly two years in prison for protesting against Putin in a church, said they had been detained three times while trying to film a new music video in Sochi just before the Olympic Games were to begin. This is the first music video to be published by the […]

Artist Alert: December 2013 and January 2014 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 12 February 2014: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Russia: A gay writer talks about homophobia and libel under Putin

In times of crisis, Russia hunts for the enemy within; that’s what author and journalist Sergey Khazov tells Cathal Sheerin of PEN International when he asks him why there is so much anti-gay sentiment in his country. Khazov is a gay Russian writer. Huffington Post asked a number of Russian journalists why they think Russia’s […]

Russia: Freedom to imprisoned Pussy Riot members

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were among those prisoners released on a general amnesty on 23 December 2013. Among the criteria for amnesty were those in prison for non-violent offences and mothers of young children. “We didn’t ask for any pardon. I would have sat here until the end of my sentence […]

Russia: Freedom promised to the two imprisoned Pussy Riot members

The Russian State Duma has passed an amnesty bill submitted by Russian President Vladimir Putin that seems to promise freedom for the two jailed members of the punk protest group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina. According to the attorney Irina Khrunova, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina may be freed before New Year, as soon as […]

Russia: Pussy Riot appeal referred back to Moscow Court

The Supreme Court has referred an appeal by three members of the Pussy Riot punk group against their prison sentences back to a Moscow court. Moscow City Court rejected an appeal against their sentences on 29 May 2013. The defense team then appealed that ruling at the Supreme Court. The imprisoned Pussy Riot members Maria […]

Russia: Pussy Riot members’ appeal accepted by Supreme Court

Russia’s Supreme Court has accepted the appeal by two imprisoned members of the punk band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, and ordered a review of prison terms for the two, saying that the lower court ignored mitigating factors. The ruling on 10 December 2013 came three months before Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina […]

Artist Alert: November 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 5 December 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member’s case against prison dismissed

Investigators have dismissed again a request filed by convicted Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to initiate a case against the administration of the Mordovian colony where she served her sentence for absence of a crime in the officials’ acts, the Investigation Committee reported. On 23 September 2013, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova declared a hunger strike and requested […]

Russia: Christian activists sabotage theater production

Ultraconservative Christians who have previously targeted erotica exhibits, Pastafarians and supporters of feminist punk group Pussy Riot have attacked a theatre performance in Moscow. Dmitry Enteo and a female accomplice hijacked the stage during a performance of Konstantin Bogomolov’s ‘An Ideal Husband’ at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre on 28 November 2013. The duo spent […]

Russia: Pussy Riot’s Alyokhina appealing to Supreme Court

The defense of a Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, who was convicted last year of hooliganism for singing a song against President Vladimir Putin, will file a supervisory appeal against her sentence with the Supreme Court, her lawyer said. The appeal from the feminist punk rocker follows a similar application with the same court by […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova located

News of jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova finally surfaced after she was incommunicado for 26 days. The husband of the Russian band member said she was being held in a prison hospital in Siberia. According to Verzilov, there is a chance that his wife might spend the remainder of her two-year sentence in the […]

Russia: Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova punished with move to Siberian prison

The husband of the imprisoned Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said he had received “100 percent reliable” information that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is being moved to a prison in the Krasnoyarsk region, four time zones and 2,000 miles from Moscow. The specific prison is not yet known, said the husband, Petya Verzilov, but early indications suggest […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member’s new prison location held secret

Convicted Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has not been heard from since she was transferred from one prison to another, her husband Petr Verzilov told international news media on 2 November 2013. Petr Verzilov said his wife was moved from a Mordovia prison to a prison in Chelyabinsk on 24 or 25 October 2013. […]

Russia: Imprisoned Pussy Riot member moved to better prison

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the two imprisoned members of Pussy Riot, is moved from the prison camp in Mordovia republic, allegedly one of the toughest women’s prison in Russia, to another prison in Alatyr in the neighboring region of Chuvashia. In two rounds, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been on hunger strike for better conditions in the […]

Artist Alert: August and September 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 21 October 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member subject to death threats and isolation

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who has been convicted to two years in prison over a “punk prayer” protest against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral in August 2012, has been moved into isolation after she announced to be starting a hunger strike. On 23 September 2013, a letter by the 23-year-old imprisoned Pussy-Riot member announcing her starting […]

Russia: Satirical paintings of Russian leaders seized

On 26 August 2013 in the evening, police seized four satirical paintings from a St. Petersburg gallery, saying the display had broken the law. The artist, Konstantin Altunin, left the country the next day to seek asylum in France. A painting entitled ‘Travesty’ by Konstantin Altunin showed the Russian president Putin wearing a tight-fitting slip […]

Russia: Rolling back free expression | Index on Censorship

As the G20 nations prepare to meet in St Petersburg, Russia in early September 2013, Index on Censorship is exploring the nations’ records on free expression. Their article about Russia, headlined ‘Russia: Rolling back free expression’ and published on 20 August 2013, contains the following paragraph about the artistic freedom of expression in the country: […]

Russia: American rock band sparked Russian outrage with flag stunt

The U.S. rock band Bloodhound Gang got kicked off a Russian music festival after having performed a stunt that was seen as the defiling of a Russian flag at a concert in Odessa, Ukraine, on 31 July 2013. Bloodhound Gang’s bass guitarist Jared Hasselhoff grabbed a Russian flag, jammed it inside his underwear and then […]

Artist Alert: June 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published at on 17 July 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Russia: Exhibition closed by authorities, gallery curator dismissed

Marat Guelman, a famous gallery curator in Russia, was dismissed as director of the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art after backing the controversial ‘Welcome! Sochi 2014’ exhibit by Vasily Slonov. Officials reportedly allege that Vasily Slonov used the Sochi 2014 symbol without permission and have launched a legal case. The art exhibition was closed by Russian […]

Sweden: ‘Impossible Music Sessions’ in Stockholm

On 11 June 2013, music written by the censored artists Pussy Riot and Arya Aramnejad will be interpreted and presented in the Swedish capital Stockholm by the artists Jennie Abrahamson, Linnéa Olsson and Love Antell. The concert, entitled ‘The Impossible Music Sessions Stockholm Session #1’ is organised by SKAP, the Swedish Society of Popular Music, […]

Russia: Jailed Pussy Riot member on hunger strike

Freemuse published the following statement regarding Maria Alyokhina’s hunger strike: Freemuse learns with dismay of the launching of a hunger strike by jailed Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, in protest against the brutal conditions of her detention and the lack of fairly adjudicatation of her conviction. Freemuse sent an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, […]

Russia: Request for parole from Pussy Riot member rejected in court

A court in the Russian region of Mordovia has denied a request for parole from 23-year-old Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, mother of a five-year-old and one of two jailed members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, reported Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty with quotes from Interfax, AFP, and Russia Today Judge Lidiya Yakovleva said in […]

Russia: Self-censorship and fear has poisoned the arts sector

Criminal prosecution of artists in Russia casts chill on expression, wrote Index on Censorship on 17 April 2013. Russian MPs back harsher anti-blasphemy law, reported BBC News on 10 April 2012, after Russian MPs had given initial approval to an anti-blasphemy law with tougher jail terms or fines for anyone found guilty of offending religious […]

Russia: The arts sector faces increasing self-censorship

Moscow artist Victoria Lomasko discussed the confrontation between her country’s orthodox church and Russian artists in an interview with DW, Germany’s international broadcaster. To avoid attacks from the Orthodox groups, artists and curators take cover in self-censorship, she told DW. Victoria Lomasko is a Russian artist who is most famous in the West for her […]

Russia: 25-year-old rapper stomped to death

In Arkhangelsk, a city in Northern Russia, a man was stomped to death on 17 February 2013 for rapping at a sports bar. Alexei Gorlishchev, 25, was rapping at the local Bookmaker Pub, sparking the ire of some patrons, the tabloid reported. One of the critics, Artyom Furzikov, 21, offered the rapper to “take […]

Guide for how to deal with cases of incitement to hatred

“A clearer approach is needed for states on how to address incitement to hatred in domestic laws, and how to practically assess individual cases,” writes ARTICLE 19 as the organisation published a 52-pages policy guidelines to do just that: to set out a clear path forward on the issues of when to prohibit freedom of […]

Russian court has banned Pussy Riot’s videos

A court in Moscow has labelled the band’s videos as ‘extremist material’, including the infamous ‘Punk Prayer’ in a cathedral in Moscow, Pussy Riot’s official website and the band’s popular LiveJournal-blog where it brings manifests and photos, reported Russian news agencies. The Moscow court has ruled that websites must remove video clips of Pussy Riot’s […]

Russia: No regrets for Pussy Riot despite bad treatment during court case

Index on Censorship had the exclusive opportunity to interview Pussy Riot member Ekatrina Samutsevich who was freed by a Moscow court on 10 October 2012. The interview took place during the same week as Samutsevich’s friends and fellow band mates Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sent to prison camps in remote Russian regions. Samutsevich […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member freed, two others to remain in prison

On 10 October 2012, a Moscow appeals court freed one of the jailed Pussy Riot members, 30-year-old Ekaterina Samutsevich, but upheld the two-year prison sentence for the two others who are to serve remainder of their sentences in penal colony. All three women were convicted in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for an […]

Russia: Rock opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ blocked

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ from 1970 has been banned in Russia after a group of locals complained that it might offend religious sentiment, reported AFP, UPI and RIA Novosti on 28 and 29 September 2012. The rock opera was scheduled to open the Rock Opera theatre in Rostov-on-Don on 18 October […]

Pussy Riot found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison

On 17 August 2012, the three members of the punk collective Pussy Riot received guilty verdicts and were each sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. According to the judge, they had “deeply insulted the faith of believers with their disrespectful criminal act and that the punk protest was blasphemous against the orthodox church.” When the heavy […]

Russia: Rock‘n’roll support for Pussy Riot

As the case against the Russian feminist punk protest band Pussy Riot gains international attention, musicians and artists from all corners of the world have joined the long line of human rights activists’ protests against the continued persecution of three of the band members. In mid-July 2012, Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the world-famous American rock band […]

Russia: Freemuse calls for free and fair trial for Pussy Riot

Freemuse sends appeals to President Vladimir Putin, Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church, the public and district prosecutor and the district court, calling for a fair and free trial for the three band members of Pussy Riot In an appeal letter sent to Russian authorities on 27 July 2012, Freemuse reminds the public prosecutor and the […]

Russia: Pussy Riot band members to remain in detention until 2013

At a closed hearing on 20 July 2012, the Khomovnichesky District Court extended until 12 January 2013  the detention of three members of the female punk band Pussy Riot who are prosecuted for having performed an anti-Putin song in a Moscow church. The decision prompted immediate condemnation from their lawyers, opposition figures, human rights activists and supporters from all over the world. […]

Russia: Punk group Pussy Riot to remain in prison

On 20 June 2012, a Tagansky district court ruled to keep the three detained band members of Pussy Riot in prison until 24 July 2012 while the police probe continues. Since February 2012, three band members of the all-female punk rock band from Moscow have been in the Butyrskaya prison, while two other members are […]

USA: Exhibition about repression and censorship in Russia

The parallels between Soviet-era repression and Mr. Putin’s authoritarian rule are at the heart of ‘Lest We Forget: Masters of Soviet Dissent’ a new exhibition of paintings and drawings by Mr. Lapin and the late Mr. Zhdanov at Charles Krause/Reporting Fine Art gallery in Washington, USA. In May 2012, the Washington Times published an article […]

Siberian bishop demands censorship of erotic Picassos

In the city of Novosibirsk, Orthodox bishop Tikhon has called for the closure of a show of the Picasso’s “Suite 347” series of erotic etchings, calling them a threat to public morals. Tikhon took offense to the prints’ graphic sexual nature, noting that there were an inappropriate number of children at the exhibition and grandiosely […]



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