Ban on Russian music

Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine on Support of National Musical Product and on Restrictions of Public Use of Musical Products of the Aggressor State”

June 19, 2022

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

October 7, 2022

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Ban on broadcasting of musical works produced or performed by the aggressor state representatives

The norm is still subject to full implementation and will produce tangible results at later stages, though the media are afraid of its disproportionate application prior to the issue of governmental guidelines on establishing the citizenship of artists.

Act’s description and legal basis 

The amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Culture” and Law of Ukraine “On Television and Radio Broadcasting” introduced a new prohibition on the public performance, public display, public demonstration, public notification of phonograms, videograms, and music videos that contain recorded performances of non-dramatic musical works with lyrics by a singer who is or was at any moment since 1991 a citizen of a state recognized by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as an aggressor state. This prohibition also covers the songs produced by any person or company registered in the aggressor state. As of March 2023, only the Russian Federation is designated as an aggressor state.

In its current form, this prohibition does not apply if:

  • a singer is a former Russian citizen who currently holds or held at the time of their death Ukrainian citizenship and dismissed the Russian one;
  • a singer is included in the List of Music Performers from the Aggressor State who Condemn the Aggression Against Ukraine (the so-called “white list”).

The National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) is the authority entrusted to publish the List and update it on the basis of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) decisions, adopted after consulting the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy (MCIP). To enter the List and, thus, obtain the right to perform and be broadcasted in Ukraine, the artists or their legal representatives have to submit an application and declaration in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders. This declaration must contain a call to cease immediately the aggression against Ukraine, a commitment to refrain from actions that might demonstrate support for the aggression against Ukraine, and consent to its publication. They shall also not be included in the List of Persons Threatening National Security, and their actions shall abide by the signed statements. There is no possibility for the persons who produced the song to apply for inclusion in the List.

The SSU reserved a month for the internal analysis of the artist’s activities and associated risks to national security. The decision on the inclusion of an artist to the List shall address general data about the artist, the result of the monitoring conducted by the SSU and other engaged bodies, and particular aspects that influenced the final decision. Interestingly, the internal document establishing the procedure of inclusion or exclusion from the List goes beyond the norms of the Law of Ukraine “On Culture” and extends the reasons for non-inclusion and exclusion from the list to the “existence of sufficient information that evidences the person’s activities contradiction to the national interests of Ukraine”.

The MCIP, the National Broadcasting Council (NBC), and the NSDC may initiate the process of exclusion of an artist from the list. It also could be challenged in administrative courts.

The prohibition does not extend to the songs produced before 20 February 2014 and containing recorded performances by a singer who was a citizen of Ukraine at the time of recording. The otherwise prohibited songs are also allowed as a part of:

  • retransmission by the audiovisual service providers of linear TV channels;
  • movies;
  • soundtrack of television programmes created before 20 February 2014; 
  • the use under the fair use clauses. 

The new Law of Ukraine “On Media”, in force from 31 March 2023, limited these provisions’ application to the media from the moment of the recognition of a particular state as an aggressor until such status’s withdrawal and for five years after that. The Parliament will have to annually review the need to apply these restrictions during the five-year period mentioned above.  

The actual implementation of the ban by the media and the regulator will depend on the implementing act adopted by the government on the procedure of determining citizenship upon request, which should be adopted within 3 months after the law enters into force (by the end of June 2023). 

The legislator classified this breach as a significant violation of the law. It may result in fines, differentiated by the stakeholder status: 

  • linear audiovisual media services (TV and radio) may face a fine reaching 10 % of their license fee or between 5 and 40 minimal wages (33,500-268,000 UAH or 840-6,700 EUR as of March 2023); 
  • non-linear audiovisual media services (on-demand services) may face a fine reaching between 30 and 40 minimal wages (201,000-268,000 UAH or 5,025-6,700 EUR as of March 2023);   
  • online media may face a fine reaching between 5 and 10 minimal wages (33,500- 67,000 UAH or 840-1,680 EUR as of March 2023).   

When determining the sum of the fine, the NBC shall consider the technology applied, territorial coverage, and other relevant aspects that make the violation more threatening to public order. In case an audiovisual media service provider commits any second significant violation in a year, it will be subjected to a doubled fine, while 6 significant violations per year will lead the NBC to apply to a court demanding the license revocation or registration cancellation. A system of penalties for non-compliance for online media depends on its status (registered, non-registered, or anonymous), and the violations are counted monthly.  


Practical application of the Law is rather limited so far since it entered into force only in October 2022 and will only be enforceable regarding the media when the government adopts the mechanism of the citizenship check. It may potentially result in the cultural separation of Ukraine from Russia, which might have important societal impacts on Ukraine’s future. On the other hand, these songs remain easily accessible on the Internet through various streaming services. There are also no enforcement mechanisms for this ban outside the media sphere and on foreign content-sharing platforms accessible in Ukraine. 

The Law’s adoption had, however, sparked the debate in society on whether the total ban on such songs is necessary. Before the Law’s adoption, the polls demonstrated that 62% of Ukrainians supported the total ban on Russian music. This, however, can definitely be attributed to the hot phase of the war in April 2022, and the situation will be interesting to monitor further since some Russian artists’ songs remain on top of the streaming statistics of Ukrainian users. The amendments to this Law are desirable to further its compliance with international standards and eliminate or modify unclear provisions.