The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation and the Russian Investigative Committee have begun to verify the statements of the creator of the St. Petersburg battle rap site RBL Anton Zabaev (Zabe). The other day, public figures saw in his speech a joke about the murder of military commander Vladlen Tatarsky. Anton Zabaev himself insists that the phrases are taken out of context and does not understand the essence of the claims. However, the head of the Safe Internet League, Ekaterina Mizulina, who is known for her biased attitude towards the Russian rap scene, joined in next. She stated that the performer “agreed to justify terrorism and discredit the army.”
Despite the fact that the popularity of battle rap in Russia has long receded and the videos do not gain former millions of views, as it was in the late tenth years, the genre has a stable fan base and fights are still held. One of these hit the information field last week, but the reason was an inspection by law enforcement agencies of the creator of the RBL site in St. Petersburg, Anton Zabaev, known under the pseudonym Zabe. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee “Army of Defenders of the Fatherland” (AZO), whose activists call themselves “the organization of the unity of the people and the army,” asked to initiate the proceedings. The reason is his punchline (shock line), in which the performer used, as the authors of the complaint suggest, a mention of the murder of military commander Vladlen Tatarsky. We are talking about an excerpt from a speech where Mr. Zabaev utters a phrase to the rapper Karambit: “You [круто] you are at war, I would give you a golden figurine so that you [к черту] exploded.” The AZO considered such an attack blasphemous and connected it with an explosion in a cafe in St. Petersburg on Universitetskaya embankment on April 2.
As the performer himself explained to Kommersant-SPb, the context was completely different: the “golden statuette” meant the American film award “Oscar”, which went to his opponent as a reward for the duel. “I didn’t fight for eight years, and now the opponent has such a chance – and for this he receives an Oscar, and the explosion in this case means joy,” he said and noted that no specific names were announced during the rounds.
In turn, in the AZO, to the question of Kommersant-SPb, whether the rapper’s phrase was correctly understood, they answered in the spirit, they say, they will figure it out in the authorities. “We are by no means against creativity, but we are against swearing [над памятью Владлена Татарского]”, – said the head of the “Army of Defenders of the Fatherland” Ivan Otrakovsky.
Ekaterina Mizulina, director of the Safe Internet League, also decided to give more noise to the situation, who had previously repeatedly asked law enforcement officers to check the statements of various rappers and bloggers. This time she said that the state should pay attention to the content and expressions “in these battles and stand-ups.” Ms. Mizulina wrote on her Telegram channel that in her speech, Zabe “cynically joked for the sake of hype about the death of military commander Vladlen Tatarsky” and by this “agreed to justify terrorism and discredit the army.” The public woman recalled that 40 people were injured during the explosion, and also noted the inadmissibility of such jokes. “According to his tg channel, this is in the order of things for him,” she pointed out.
Kommersant-SPb asked AZO how, in principle, they found out about this case, given that at the peak of battle rap in Russia (2017), the RBL site was many times inferior in popularity to the same Versus Battle and SLOVOSPB. They said that initially an appeal was sent to the organization from supporters demanding to sort out the situation. It should be noted that earlier Anton Zabe had a conflict with another rap musician, Shokk (Dima Bamberg, once an associate of Oksimiron recognized as a foreign agent), who saw in the posts of Mr. Zabaev a mockery of his patriotic views. Schokk asked fans to send him all the statements addressed to him. After that, one of the subscribers, in response to a post with screenshots of Zabe’s Telegram channel, asked the question: “I don’t understand why there is a case for Sobchak, but is this sitting in St. Petersburg?” – and received a response from Dima Bamberg himself: “Soon he will sit in another place.”
In a conversation with Kommersant-SPb, rapper Zabe emphasized that he was well aware of the incident in the cafe and did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. “It was not even in my thoughts that someone might think differently. If you look at the whole performance, then there was no politics at all – purely our subcultural showdown, ”the performer explained. Mr. Zabaev stressed that he himself is a “man of humane values” and would not allow himself to mock such things.