Police Question Musicians Over Song Played at Khimki Rally

Barto performing at a rally on Pushkin Square, August 22, 2010. Source: Rusolidarnost-msk.ruMembers of the Russian band Barto have been summoned to the police in connection with a song that mentions “lighting cop cars on fire,” which the group played at a rally in defense of the Khimki Forest on August 22, BBC’s Russian service reports.

The band members were ordered to appear at the headquarters of the Moscow City Police on Monday for an “interrogation,” said group soloist Maria Lyubicheva.

The phone call from the police headquarters informed the band that the electro-punk song “Gotov” (“Ready”), which was performed at the rally on Moscow’s Pushkin Square, can be interpreted as extremist.

Lyubicheva told the BBC that the offending lyrics – “to set fire to cop cars at night” and “the law is garbage” – have been taken out of context.

The chorus of the song, which was read without instrumental accompaniment at the rally, reads: I’m ready!/ And are you ready?/ To set fire to cop cars at night?/ It’s like a principle of life, a sign of good taste/ For those to whom the law is garbage.

“The song needs to be listened to in its entirety, because if you take lines out of context, then you can intentionally misconstrue any piece of work and call it extremist,” said Lyubicheva, who wrote the song’s lyrics.

According to the artist, the chorus speaks about the sacrifices that two people are prepared to make for the sake of their love.

Songs containing derogatory remarks about the Russian police cost popular rapper Noize MC a ten-day jail sentence in August.

The rapper, famous for his indictment of the Moscow police in his song “Mercedes S-666,” labeled some law enforcement officers “animals with red insignia” after they tried to stop him from handing a hat to attendees of one of his concerts in Volgograd in order to collect donations – a routine part of the artist’s program.

After the concert, Noize MC was detained for 48 hours and convicted the next day of minor hooliganism.

The rally in defense of the Khimki Forest on August 22 was sanctioned by the Moscow city authorities, a move that surprised organizers used to being denied permission to hold opposition events. At the same time, police refused to allow sound equipment to be set up on the stage.

The authorities argued that the use of sound equipment would turn the rally into a concert, which they did not grant permission to hold. However, as oppositionists noted, sound equipment is always used at their various other rallies.

In the end, a variety of musical groups, including Barto and headlined by rock singer Yury Shevchuk, performed acoustically with only the aid of megaphones.