Ever since the two bitter wars the Russian Federation – then a nation in shambles – somehow managed to fight in the Caucasus in the 1990s, with the goal of preventing the first thread from being pulled from its post-Soviet borders – Moscow has had something of an arrangement with one of its once rebellious regions, Chechnya.
20+ years on, this keeps the peace. But at what price to the people living in the Caucasian republics of Russia, and at what price to the already heavily reviled international image of Russia itself?
One thing is evident: the arrangement is political, but also all too often a cultural and a religious variation on the “live and let live” principle.
In other words, Moscow turns a blind eye to many things happening in Chechnya that would not pass elsewhere in the country. The message to Grozny seems to be: as long as you don’t try something silly like a push for independence or supporting terrorists, we won’t make a song and dance about it.
But as it turns out, neither will many Chechen-based performing artists – quite literally, they won’t – specifically, those who’d like to perform national songs and folk dances on the internet without special permission from local authorities.
The Chechen authorities are now tightening the screws on local, often amateur artists. More specifically – on how they are permitted to publish and perform online.
Those among these artists who thought they could circumvent “a special commissions” and Chechnya’s Ministry of Culture to reach and grow an audience on social networks such as YouTube, Instagram, or Russia’s version of Facebook, VKontakte – are now reportedly out of luck.
“Coordination” is the keyword here, as the local Chechen authorities want to keep artistic expression of this kind under one umbrella – that of the said ministry.
There are also religious and nationalistic requirements. For example: to keep in line with the largely Muslim republic’s “norms” artists must always wear “strict outfits and behave modestly.”
Then there’s the concern that “pseudo-artists” – i.e., those not approved by the special commission, might undermine “the unique creative style of Vainakh (Caucasus-based nations) and morality” when they go online seeking their audiences.