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Rap Against The Machine

Noize MC's new video "10 Days (Stalingrad)"

Noize MC is at it again -- and his timing couldn't be better.

After spending 10 days in jail for performing a song mocking police at a music festival in Volgograd, the irrepressible rapper has released a new song and video -- mocking the police.

"Goodbye to the city of Stalingrad," Noize MC -- whose real name is Ivan Alekseyev -- rapped using the city's Stalin-era name. "Now it is clear to me where the capital of our police state is located."

The video streams footage of police brutality, including officers stopping and assaulting a motorcyclist, punching a woman in the face during an antigovernment protest, and kicking and beating patrons at a casino.

The song's chorus is taken from a sarcastic apology the rapper made to the police while still incarcerated:

I would like to apologize to the Volgograd police;
They're great guys and they have principles;
Thank you for the possibility to feel like a bird;
Gazing at the world from behind the bars of their ambition.
They fed and treated me well;
It was like a health spa. How could I not repent?
Thanks for the 10 days of paradise and inspiration.
Once again I ask, please accept my apologies.

Noize MC was arrested in Volgograd on July 31 after playing the song "Kuri Bambuk," which is about police brutality and includes the lyrics: "Citizen! Halt. Halt. Turn out your pockets, slap, slap. Now your kidneys, kick, kick. Well off you go. Forget it, swallow it, be silent."

Noize MC
In an interview with, the rapper said he issued the apology only after being threatened with charges of "insulting a police officer," which caries a maximum one-year sentence, rather than a 10-day term for public profanity.

"I was under pressure...and was not allowed to call anyone -- neither my lawyer nor my producer," he said. "I decided to get out of the situation by writing an ironic ode to the police. I know from experience that sarcasm is difficult for police officers to understand."

Noize MC made international headlines with the song "Mercedes 666," inspired by a traffic accident involving LUKoil vice president Anatoly Barkov that left two women dead.

His latest broadside comes with police brutality very much in the news and with public anger about the abuse rising.

RFE/RL's Russian Service is currently following the story of Sergei Makhnatkin, a 56-year-old man who was sentenced to 30 months in jail for resisting the police.

On New Year's Eve, Makhnatkin was on his way to visit a friend, carrying a bag of champagne and caviar, when he passed through Moscow's Triumfalnaya Ploshad -- the scene of an antigovernment protest. Makhnatkin tried to dissuade police, who were violently breaking up the protest, from beating an elderly woman.

According to witnesses, the officers then detained Makhnatkin, handcuffed him to a pole in a police bus, and beat him. A Moscow court today upheld his 30-month sentence. Apparently nobody got the memo about Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev's remarks that citizens should be allowed to fight back when police attack them without cause.

In a video from Granitv, Makhnatkin explains what happened:

And in this video, posted on YouTube, people gathered on Sunday in support of Makhnatkin, and attempted to explain to the police that the Russian Constitution guarantees their right to peacefully assemble:

The face of the state for most citizens is the police. And when a hip 25-year-old rapper and a 56-year-old Russian everyman reach the same conclusion -- that the police are out of control -- it is a pretty good sign that the state has a big problem on its hands.

Much has been made of President Dmitry Medvedev's efforts at police reform. But as my fellow Power Vertical-head Robert Coalson pointed out in an insightful post last week, Russia's police are able to act with impunity because they are a key player in the corrupt political order the country's national leader and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin established over the past decade. Put bluntly, without their support, it would be impossible to fix elections, intimidate the opposition, and assure that the current elite remains in power.

Truly reforming the police, therefore, will require the kind of political reform that neither Medvedev nor Putin appear to have any appetite for.

-- Brian Whitmore

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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