Chechnya To Enforce Tempo Regulations on Music

DJ adjusting sound board
DJ adjusting sound board | Image by Yana Iskayeva/Getty Images

In a move that has stirred concern among musicians and artists, the Russian Republic of Chechnya has implemented a ban on music and dance compositions deemed too fast or too slow.

The decision to impose the ban was announced on April 5 by Minister of Culture Musa Dadayev after a deliberation between the republic’s ministry and a coalition of regional artists.

The Culture Ministry said in a statement provided to The Moscow Times, “Borrowing musical culture from other peoples is inadmissible… From now on all musical, vocal, and choreographic works should correspond to a tempo of 80 to 116 beats per minute.”

Dadayev relayed that the directive to impose tempo restrictions ranging from 80 to 116 BPM was made to align with the vision of Chechen President Ramzan Akhmatovich Kadyrov. The aim was to ensure that Chechen musical and dance expressions resonate with what is described as the “Chechen mentality and musical rhythm,” thus preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of the Chechen people, per CNN.

However, the move is expected to have far-reaching implications for various music genres, particularly pop and techno, where tempos often exceed or fall below the prescribed range. The ban affects the creation and performance of music and imposes limitations on choreographic works.

The imposition of cultural norms by the government continues to raise questions about the broader implications for individual liberties in the region, an area currently plagued by alleged human rights violations.

In 2006, Human Rights Watch undertook two investigative missions to Chechnya, with a particular emphasis on examining allegations related to torture and unlawful detention practices.

Chechnya, situated in the North Caucasus region, has garnered international attention in the past due to its actions under Kadyrov. Since assuming power in 2007, Kadyrov has faced accusations of suppressing dissent and human rights violations, including reports of violence against LGBTQ individuals. UN News reported in 2019 that the LGBTQ community was facing a “new wave of persecution.”

“Abuse inflicted on victims has allegedly become more cruel and violent compared with reports from 2017. It is no longer only gay men in Chechnya who are being targeted but women also,” reported the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2019.

Despite condemnation and calls for an investigation by international bodies, Kadyrov has consistently denied the existence of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, dismissing allegations of persecution as unfounded.

His administration has also been criticized for its heavy-handed approach toward Chechen separatist movements and political opposition.

“We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada,” said Kadyrov during an interview on Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, reported The Washington Post.

The region’s recent imposition on the tempo of music may be seen as another infraction in a series of purportedly harsh impositions on human rights from the Chechen government.

“The musical culture of the Chechens was diverse in pace and methodology. We must bring to the people and to the future of our children the cultural heritage of the Chechen people,” said Dadayev.

Artists within the region have been given until June 1 to “rework” any music that falls outside the specified tempo range, reported DJ Mag. Failure to comply with this requirement will render the music ineligible for public performance.

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