Spotify Removes Russian Artists Who Openly Support Ukraine War

Spotify has removed the music and profiles of Russian artists who openly support the war in Ukraine.

The Moscow Times reports that the removals, which took effect Thursday, impacted Russian nationalist rock band Lyube and singers Grigory Leps, Oleg Gazmanov, Shaman, and Polina Gagarina, among others.

“Platform Rules clearly state that we take action when we identify content which explicitly violates our content policies or local laws,” the streaming giant said in a statement to the Moscow Times on Thursday. “Upon review, these artists met the threshold for removal.”

The removal follows Spotify’s March 2022 decision to fully suspend service in Russia and close its Russian offices amidst the country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Lyube, Leps, and Gazmanov have been under EU sanctions since 2022 for their performances at Kremlin-organized pro-war rallies. Pop singers Shaman—real name Yaroslav Dronov—and Polina Gagarina, a former Eurovision Song Contest star, were added to the latest EU sanctions list earlier this week, following their participation in state-sponsored concerts celebrating the war.

These sanctions make it illegal for any EU entity, such as Swedish-based Spotify, to engage in financial transactions with the above artists—in this case, royalty payments and streaming revenues. Music from all of the sanctioned artists is still available on other streaming platforms like YouTube and Apple Music.

In 2018, Spotify’s public hate content and hateful conduct policy resulted in the removal of music by R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from editorial playlists on the platform. However, the company “walked back” the policy after concerns that it disproportionately affected artists of color, according to Bloomberg.

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Written by
Peter Volpe

Journalism student at The Ohio State University with a passion for culture and fat basslines.

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