Germany Heavy Metal Artist Again At Odds With Russian Officials

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According to the Rosstat agency, 205,500 people died in Russia (Red Square in Moscow pictured) in October 2020, a rise of 47,800 on October 2019
According to the Rosstat agency, 205,500 people died in Russia (Red Square in Moscow pictured) in October 2020, a rise of 47,800 on October 2019 AFP / NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA

Till Lindemann, the frontman for German heavy metal band Rammstein, has once again gotten himself into trouble in Russia.

Lindemann, 58, was slated to perform Sunday at the Maclarin For Homeland music festival in the Tver, a Russian city located hundreds of miles northwest of Moscow. Initial reports said Lindemann was arrested at his hotel, but German media reported that he was only interrogated and warned to abide by local COVID-19 restrictions.

The festival was later canceled by authorities and its website was taken down. Violations of COVID-19 measures were the stated reason for the festival’s shutdown, but there is also a perceived political angle to it given that the festival’s organizer is a businessman and a Russian nationalist opposition party member.

Maxim Larin, a former legislator for the Rodina, or Motherland Party, announced the festival’s closure over the social media network Vkontakte, Russia’s equivalent to Facebook. Larin’s son is reported to be running for a local legislative office on the Rodina ticket.

Also caught up in the incident was Lindemann’s agent, Anar Reiband, who was arrested by Russian police and accused of violating migration laws by applying for a tourist visa.

Lindemann's dustup with Russian police comes two weeks after the director of St. Petersburg’s storied Hermitage Museum accused Lindemann of violating copyright laws by offering non-fungible tokens that bore the historic art center’s image.

The Hermitage previously allowed Lindemann permission to record a music video for Lubimy Gorod, or “Beloved City” in Russian, on its grounds in May. The director of the Hermitage Museum would later call Rammstein's move "rude and pigheaded," accusing group of committing "intellectual aggression" against his museum.

Rammstein has provoked controversy during past visits to Russia. At a 2019 concert in Moscow, Rammstein guitarists Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers kissed on the stage of Russia's largest football stadium in a move believed to be aimed at the country's legislation limiting homosexuality in public life.

Lindemann is still slated to perform at another concert in Moscow next weekend. From Sept. 4 to Sept. 5, he will be a special guest at the Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival that will take place at Red Square. The festival is co-sponsored by several state-owned or backed Russian entities and includes a welcome message from President Vladimir Putin.

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