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Russian Officials Put Squeeze On Concert For Embattled Rock Critic

Artemy Troitsky

Artemy Troitsky

MOSCOW -- Russian officials have unexpectedly inspected a Moscow rock club that has agreed to host a concert on June 10 to support prominent music critic Artemy Troitsky, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

One of the HLEB club's employees, who gave his name as Konstantin, told RFE/RL
officials from the Presnya district Prosecutor's Office and the Emergency Situations Ministry admitted that the inspection -- which lasted several hours -- was connected to the upcoming concert.

He said the authorities are trying to intimidate the club's owners in order to prevent the multi-band concert from taking place.

Konstantin added that the officials left a subpoena summoning the club owners to the Presnya prosecutor's office at noon on June 10 "due to the lack of compliance on the premises with fire-safety regulations."

He said earlier this year fire inspection officials set a deadline of August for ensuring compliance with fire-safety requirements.

Troitsky is Russia's most prominent rock and popular music critic and has often been critical of Russian authorities.

Former traffic inspection police officer Nikolai Khovansky and Vadim Samoylov, a former member of the rock band Agata Kristi, filed separate libel lawsuits against Troitsky earlier this year.

Samoylov did so because he said he was insulted when Troitsky called him a "trained poodle" of deputy Kremlin chief of staff Vladislav Surkov. And Khovansky filed suit against Troitsky after he wrote that the policeman is "one of the foulest cops in Russia."

Music producer Vasily Shumov told RFE/RL he decided to organize a concert by Russia's leading rock and pop groups to support Troitsky. He said the profits from the concert will go to cover all legal expenses related to the trial and, if necessary, the fine the court imposes.

The management of Moscow's Central House of Artists refused last week to host a concert in support of Troitsky, admitting that they were warned by phone from some authorities not to do so.

Read more in Russian here