Chechnya bans music too fast or too slow

By James Kilner

'Polluting' Western techno and rave music will no longer be able to be played in Chechnya - iStockphoto

Chechnya has banned “polluting” Western techno and rave music by passing a law that requires all songs played in the Russian republic to be no faster than 116 beats per minute. The legislation also includes a lower limit of 80 beats per minute.

The Chechen government said the law had been introduced to promote traditional local dance and music, according to a statement released through the Grozny-Inform news agency.

“We must bring to the people and to the future of our children the cultural heritage of the Chechen people,” Musa Dadaev, Chechnya’s culture minister, said. “This includes the entire spectrum of moral and ethical standards of life for Chechens.”

The Chechen Ministry of Culture said Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s president, had approved the decision.

Chechnya is nominally a semi-autonomous republic within the Russian Federation and has a degree of independence over some laws, especially around culture.

But Meduza said that as well as banning most trance, techno, samba and waltz music, the new law also inadvertently bans the Russian national anthem, which is typically played at 76 beats per minute.

“Victory Day”, a popular Russian military song, also falls foul of the legislation, because it is played at 126 beats per minute,

Kadyrov has been loyal to Vladimir Putin since he took over as Chechnya’s president in 2007 but he is also an authoritarian who cracks down on what he views as polluting Western influence and fashions. Homosexuality is banned in Chechnya and women’s rights are severely crimped.

Kadyrov is a keen dancer and there are dozens of videos of him online initiating apparently spontaneous dancing with women at public celebrations as his large entourage stands in a circle and claps him.

Chechen song and dance are often anchored around intense but controlled music linked to Sufism, a form of Muslim mysticism. Men typically play a prominent role in Chechen dance and the chanting, thumping, throbbing all-male Sufi Zikr dance is supposed to induce a trance-like state.

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