Russian law enforcement authorities will inspect popular rapper Morgenshtern’s criticism toward the country’s annual commemorations of the Soviet victory in World War II for possible legal violations, they said Tuesday.
“I don’t understand this Victory Day at all. Millions are spent on these celebrations from year to year,” Morgenshtern, 23, said in a YouTube interview with journalist Ksenia Sobchak published Monday. “There’s probably simply nothing else to be proud of.”
A Russian veterans’ organization said Tuesday it had asked authorities to determine whether the comments violate Russian law.
Morgenshtern “conducts openly destructive activities, praises immoral values among young people; he’s an irresponsible person to both his and the younger generation,” it said.
Morgenshtern later apologized for offending veterans, saying on his Instagram page “I don’t formulate my thoughts properly.”
But Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Tuesday that it had “instructed Moscow’s head of the main investigative department, A.A. Strizhov, to organize an inspection in connection with the veteran organization’s appeal.”
“The procedural check will establish whether Morgenshtern’s statements violated current legislation,” the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The Kremlin called Morgenshtern “ignorant but not spiteful,” urging the rapper and other “such young people” to “ask their grandparents or some other still living veterans about why Victory Day is so important.”
Sobchak took to social media to defend Morgenshtern, stressing that he “said that he personally doesn’t understand such a celebration. Doesn’t understand! Do you understand? Why are millions spent on this? Why such a scale?”
“He is a representative of a different generation, which cannot emotionally grasp what happened 76 years ago,” Sobchak wrote on her Telegram channel.
Morgenshtern, Russia’s “enfant terrible,” has drawn the ire of conservative activists throughout his career and has recently found himself in legal crosshairs.
A court fined the rapper in June over what it deemed to be “drug propaganda” in his songs. Last week, a Moscow court also fined popular YouTuber Yury Dud for “drug propaganda” in his interview with Morgenshtern.
The controversy around Morgenshtern’s comments comes amid Russia’s wider push to assert its narrative of World War II and of the Soviet victory against Nazi Germany, which is a revered national holiday in Russia.
In March, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning insults against World War II veterans, an offense now punishable by up to five years in jail.