Russian rock journalist Art Troitsky’s caustic tongue has landed him in court in four separate libel cases. Emily Butselaar reports
Leading Russian music critic Art Troitsky, 55, goes on trial tomorrow in criminal proceedings brought by rock star Vadim Samoylov. The Russian singer and guitarist filed two defamation lawsuits, one civil and one criminal, four months after Troitsky criticised him in television documentary exploring the links between the music world and the Kremlin. Not content with potentially putting Troitsky in prison, in the civil case Samoulav is asking for a million roubles in damages.
In the Ren-TV production Troitsky referred to Samoulav as a “trained poodle for Surkov”. Surkov is Vladislav Surkov, once Putin’s chief strategist, now the Kremlin’s deputy Chief of Staff and a polarising figure in Russian politics. Unusually for a political idealogue, he has also written two albums for Samoylov’s band Agata Kristi.
When Samoylov filed suit Troitsky was already facing two other libel trials, civil and criminal. He was being sued for slandering a police officer who was the first official on the scene of a controversial car crash when an oil executive’s vehicle collided with car carrying two women who were killed in the incident. During a November concert by the rock band DDT, Troitsky awarded the officer a “prize” for being one the countries worst police officers. The officer’s daughter was in the audience. In April he was ordered to pay 130,000 roubles compensation to the policeman. The criminal trial is still pending.
Troitsky views the cases as a coordinated attempt by the Kremlin to “tame him”. He told Index he believes the authorities are attempting to “teach other journalists and public figures a lesson, don’t open your mouth, don’t be brave or outspoken.”
Art’s always been fearless, it’s a miracle he survived the Soviet Union. It’s astonishing he now finds himself a political pawn in the new Russia.
Index on Censorship’s chief executive, John Kampfner said: “Art Troitsky is a great iconoclast and fearless cultural critic. One can only surmise that the authorities, who have wanted to silence him for some time, are applying the same logic to him as they did to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who now languishes in jail. They authorities intimidated the business community, now they seek to do the same with the arts”