Rap music a 'path to the degradation of the nation' - Putin

Alarmed by the growing popularity of rap among Russian youth, President Vladimir Putin wants cultural leaders to devise a means of controlling, rather than banning, popular music.

But Mr Putin said at a St Petersburg meeting with cultural advisers Saturday that attempts to ban artists from performing will have an adverse effect and bolster their popularity.

"If it is impossible to stop, then we must lead it and direct it properly. But how to do it, it depends on us."

Mr Putin noted that "rap is based on three pillars: sex, drugs and protest". But he is particularly concerned with drug themes prevalent in rap, saying it was an "obvious… path to the degradation of the nation".

A study last year found rap actually has fewer drug references than other genres.

Mr Putin's comments come amid a crackdown on contemporary music that evoked Soviet-era censorship of the arts.