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Russian Musicians, Journalist Angry Over Rapper's Arrest


(WATCH: Noize MC performs in Volgograd on July 31)

MOSCOW -- A group of well-known Russian cultural figures has written an open letter to protest the arrest of Russian rap artist Noize MC, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Noize MC, whose real name is Ivan Alekseyev, was arrested and charged with hooliganism on July 31 after performing a song at a concert in Volgograd that police deemed abusive. He was sentenced the next day to 10 days in prison.

Noize mocked Volgograd's police, calling them "animals with red headbands" and dedicated his song "Kuri bambuk" -- about the ineffectiveness and corruption of Russia police -- to them.

Journalist Artyom Troitsky, actor Aleksei Devotchenko, and members of the rock groups Auktsion, Televizor, and NEP all signed the letter demanding the rapper be released immediately. They also say that police should stop interfering in arts and culture, citing Article 20 of the Russian Constitution that prohibits censorship.

Troitsky told RFE/RL that Russian society has been awakened by the arrest and that feelings of dissatisfaction and protest are getting stronger.

"The thing is that people [in power] and the authorities are afraid. And the thing is that people [in power] are stupid and can only rely on brute strength, and so their first reflex is to scare people, as an example to others. It's the same thing that happened in Khimki and to Noize," Troitsky said.

Alekseyev is best known in Russia and abroad for his song "Mercedes S666." The song is about a car accident in Moscow in February involving the car of LUKoil Vice President Anatoly Barkov and a Citroen. The song blames Barkov for the accident, which killed two women in the Citroen, and suggests that Barkov ordered the police to cover up his guilt.

The police initially blamed the two women for the accident. No one has been charged in connection with incident.

Alekseyev's press secretary told RFE/RL that he is writing lyrics for a new song in prison.

"The officers gave him paper and a pencil and he is writing lyrics about his arrest."

Alekseyev is to be released on August 10.

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