Russian Christian Orthodox Rap: “Where Are You Russia, Pure and White?”

June 26, 2014 | Marina Galperina

This is Maxim Kurlenko aka “Nastoyatel.” He is a practicing priest in a small town of Cheboksary. He is a rapper. “Where has morally pure, white Russia gone?” he raps.

The Russian offshoot of Christian rap has been rising in popularity lately, as more and more Russians identifying as Eastern Orthodox. Calvert Journal has comprised a very handy primer for the uninitiated. A lot of it is not very wholesome and kind of racist.

…This influence can have a much darker side — a certain deep-rooted racism that often accompanies Orthodoxy. That’s not to say that Orthodox Christianity or its cultural offshoots are intrinsically racist, but the new God-fearing rappers help to promote Church-sanctioned traditional Russian values and a form of nationalism that can be dangerously xenophobic. Although Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor often includes songs with hate-filled lyrics on its extremism blacklist, any bans have only boosted the popularity of the genre.

The burgeoning genre is pretty far-ranging, but let’s focus on this guy right here and how political he is. The video below features that “pure and white” lyric, intercut with cathedrals “sadly looking down on the choices of the believers” and then, flashes onto blogger-turned-politician Alexei Navalny, a “liberast.”

Navalny is Putin’s only contemporary opponent who made a tiny blimp in the voting results, but his supporters keep getting jailed and it’s likely never going to happen for him. He’s also pretty nationalist, but by Russia’s standards he is liberal as hell. According to Nastoyatel’s rap, he is one of the “liberasts” poisoning his pure Russia. A “liberast” is a combination of “liberal” and “pederast,” because all non-conservatives are gay pedophiles, naturally. This really echoes the two-punch of Russia’s extreme Right Wing sentiments rights now — a heil at the government-sanctioned oppression of LGBT and a hate of any political dissent.

All this is not all together surprising, with the Eastern Orthodox church deeply entrenched in Kremlin affairs and Putin’s ever-expanding morality laws, the criminalizing of offending Christianity in any way and the criminalization of “sacrilegious” activity. Welcome to the new mainstream, sort of.

What’s worse — tons of people convinced that Pussy Riot are actual “demons,” old dudes dressed like a biker gang harassing protestors and shooting arrows at pictures of gay pin-ups, or these guys who think that this is what “Fyodor Dostoevsky and Alexei Balabanov would sound like if they made rap music?”

Find out more at the Calvert Journal.