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Crackdown on rappers 'pointless', Putin says

[MOSCOW] Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he does not support concert bans and arrests of musicians, in response to a continuing crackdown on rap stars popular with Russian youth.

Mr Putin said he is not against rappers and even had a rapper on his campaign once who was covered with tattoos.

"About detention of these rappers, I agree with you. That's just pointless... there is nothing good in that," Mr Putin told an annual end-of-year press conference.

"We can't just jail, ban and punish, that's wrong," Mr Putin said.

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Last month popular rapper Husky was jailed after authorities disrupted his concert in southern Russia.

Other performers have reported concert cancellations and blockages of online videos.

Some things should be off limits, like "propaganda" of drugs or suicide, according to Mr Putin.

But, he said rather than heavy-handed banning, more delicate methods should be employed to "convince (youth) of the greater attractiveness of other values".

On Saturday, Mr Putin explained at a discussion with culture advisors that the foundation of rap consists of "sex, drugs, and protest against everything", three things of which he finds drugs the most worrying.

He hinted that some rappers actually benefit from concert cancellations. "Some artists will now be lining up to have their concert banned and then get the so-called hype," he said.

In an indication of what sort of role models he suggests for modern youngsters, Mr Putin said Thursday that whenever he is asked, he thinks of a group of 96 youth that joined the Red Army during World War II; only six of them survived.

"Those are heroes, that's youth," Mr Putin said.