The Russian authorities appear to have a new weapon to combat any appetite for protest against them: pop music on YouTube.
In Russia’s controlled media environment, YouTube has become a prominent outlet for the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has used it to publicise allegations of corruption against government figures.
It is also a platform widely used by young people in Russia, who figured prominently in widespread protests against government corruption in March.
To many observers, recent pop music videos on the platform are doubtless the work of the Russian authorities.
A music video uploaded by singer Alisa Vox this week features her posing as a schoolteacher and lecturing a teenager for going to a rally with a placard with “no fewer than four spelling mistakes”.
She encourages the young man to lead a less subversive life, promising “freedom, money and girls – even power” as a reward. “It’s never too late to learn from your mistakes,” runs the song’s refrain. “If you heart wants change, kid, then start with yourself.”
Vox’s video comes hot on the heels of a similar effort by the rapper Ptakha, who sneers at young demonstrators for being “rich brats on lamp-posts” – a reference to a widely circulated picture of protesters climbing onto a streetlamp from the March protest.
Mr Navalny has suggested the videos are part of a wider PR campaign by the authorities against him and the wider protest movement and one columnist called Vox’s sudden turn to political subjects “Kremlin political instruction in rhyme form”.
Vox herself has not seemed particularly enamoured of her effort, telling the independent news website Meduza in an interview that questions about the song were “doing my head in” and that she was taking a media “time-out”.
Most of the responses to the videos have been negative and seem to bear out a wry observation of Vox’s video from a former band member: “No, the kids aren’t stupid.”
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