January 01, 2015

Culture Wars

After years of tolerating certain trendy and broad-minded institutions popular with the city’s growing middle class, Moscow is purging theaters, clubs, and a media outlet that was at the forefront of covering protest rallies prior to Vladimir Putin’s re-election to a third term. Actions against these institutions have been seen by some as part of an ongoing campaign to promote what the government considers an “acceptable” and “supportive” cultural atmosphere.

After being evicted from the retro-chic former Red October candy factory, Dozhd television channel, whose trials and tribulations Russian Life covered last year, rented space from Snob, a magazine that publishes critical journalism and is owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. But in December Snob suddenly said it wanted to remodel, and the beleaguered channel had to find a new base for its programming. On its website, Dozhd (“Rain”) announced that it may be operating out of a staffers’ apartments as a temporary measure.

Moscow authorities have also taken action against Teatr.Doc, a small theater known for staging political plays. The theater received a letter last fall telling it to vacate the dusty basement it occupied in historic Tryokhprudny pereulok. The reason: the theater remodeled a window in a manner that suddenly has been deemed problematic by the fire inspector (after twelve years of operation with said window).

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