Over the last couple of months, a crackdown on Western music has been going on in Russia, with two major FM radio stations focused on foreign language artists facing closure and legislators mulling the introduction of a 25 percent quota for all music with non-Russian lyrics on the air.
To a large degree, these developments reflect a “patriotic,” anti-Western sentiment that has been spreading in Russia over the last 18 months or so, since Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and subsequent sanctions slapped by the United States and the European Union.
Last year, an idea of introducing restrictions on Hollywood films or even totally banning them was seriously discussed but eventually abandoned after harsh criticism from producers, distributors, and exhibitors.
Now, it appears that the music industry could fall prey to the anti-Western sentiment.
Several weeks ago, Kremlin-loyal producer Vladimir Kiselyov, who, incidentally, organized a charity event a few years ago, attended by Sharon Stone, Kevin Costner, and President Vladimir Putin, with the latter crooning Fats Domino’s "Blueberry Hill," came up with the idea that Western artists are getting too much airplay in Russia, while their local colleagues with “patriotic” views should be promoted instead.
Kiselyov proposed a deal, under which, Goskontsert, a state-run company he has close ties to, would buy the privately owned Russian Media Group (RMG), an owner of several FM radio stations. RMG would then be turned into a "patriotic media group," with Kiselyov on top as general producers.
And, although some local artists, whose songs are rotated on RMG stations, backed by their producers, slammed Kiselyov's initiative, the government gave it a go-ahead, and the state-run bank VTB recently agreed to bankroll the deal.
Things began to look even more grim for Western artists' tracks on Russian TV and radio stations, when, more recently, Communist legislator Ivan Nikitchuk proposed a legislation limiting the share of songs with foreign language lyrics on the air to a 25 percent quota.
He mentioned Germany, Poland, and France as countries where local culture is protected from foreign influences and said that Russia should follow suit.
"Twenty-five percent is enough to show the best examples of Western music," he was quoted as saying by the Russian News Service. "The rest I would like to be in my mother tongue, Russian."
The proposal is to be considered shortly and, given the current political climate in Russia, its chances of being passed are not slim.