Spotify Removes Music by Russian Artists Supportive of Ukraine Invasion

Entertainment

The streaming service says the artists “met the threshold for removal” by violating its “content policies or local laws.”

Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Spotify has removed the music and profiles of several Russian artists who support the Ukraine invasion and have been sanctioned by the European Union and elsewhere in the West, Billboard has confirmed. The removals were first reported by The Moscow Times .

“Platform Rules clearly state that we take action when we identify content which explicitly violates our content policies or local laws,” said a Spotify spokesperson in a statement sent to Billboard. “Upon review, these artists met the threshold for removal.”

Spotify did not say what specific violations resulted in the removals.

According to the Telegram channel of Rodnoy Zvuk, the removals affected artists Polina Gagarina, Grigory Leps, Oleg Gazmanov, Shaman, Chicherina, Lyube and possibly others. Music from those artists currently remains available on rival streaming services, including Apple Music and YouTube.

Gagarina and Shaman appear to be the most recent targets of European Union sanctions, having appeared on a June 24 list of names released by the body. The document claims both have participated in pro-war events sponsored by the Russian government, noting that Shaman (real name Yaroslav Yuryevich Dronov) has also “given concerts in the illegally occupied regions of Ukraine, including as part of troop entertainment events for the Russian Armed Forces.” The Moscow Times reports the other artists named in the Telegram post were sanctioned in 2022 following Russia’s initial invasion.

On March 2, 2022, Spotify announced it had indefinitely closed its Russian office in the wake of the Feb. 24 invasion, stating at the time that it would be “providing individual support to our personnel in the region as well as our global community of Ukrainian employees.” Prior to the closure, the streamer said it had reviewed “thousands of pieces of content” on the platform and restricted the discoverability of propaganda-leaning content while also removing content from state-owned news outlets RT and Sputnik.

Later in March, the company — which launched in Russia in 2020 — shut down its service in the country altogether, citing a law imposed by the Kremlin that made it a criminal offense to describe the Ukrainian conflict as a war started by Russia.

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