(New York, NY) — PEN America decried Russia’s Chief Prosecutor Alexander Bastrykin’s call for an investigation into rappers Oxxxymiron (Miron Fedorov) and Noize MC (Ivan Alekseyev) after a “group of patriots” allegedly denounced their songs for being critical of government censorship.

Oxxxymiron and Noize MC’s brash style and straight-talking lyrics represent something the Putin regime clearly views as dangerous to its grip on power: a younger generation who refuse to accept the status quo,” said Polina Sadovskaya, director of Eurasia programs at PEN America. “Targeting musicians is nothing new for the Kremlin. Accusations of extremism and of the promotion of drugs and suicide are classic excuses used by the authorities in Russia to justify the repression of radical or rebellious art. Any investigation into the work of Oxxxymiron and Noize MC should be stopped immediately and the practice of persecuting singers for their songs should also cease.”

“The absurdity of Bastyrkin’s decision is underscored by the fact that this alleged denunciation by a ‘group of patriots’ was actually lifted from a satirical blog post,” continued Sadovskaya. “Its author, Dmitry Yakushev, has himself stated that what he wrote was a joke.”

PEN America monitors threats to free expression in Eurasia among artists, writers, and journalists. You can read more about the persecution of Russian artists here, and about the organization’s broader advocacy initiatives in support of writers, journalists, and cultural figures in the region here.