Vugar Abdullayev, a performer of traditional rap-like
, has been arrested and sentenced to 30 days of administrative detention by the Sumqayit City Court for alleged drug possession and trafficking.
Abdullayev, also known as Vugar Sada, was detained for “publicly promoting drug use” with his music, the Ministry of Internal Affairs stated on Monday, 1 April.
The arrest came after Abdullayev’s song “Kazbek”, which addresses marijuana, became widely popular on social media, particularly among young and female users, who recorded and published videos of themselves dancing to the music. The song is also frequently played at weddings throughout the country.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affaris, Abdullayev said that he had recorded the song a few years ago already, and that he regrets doing so. He had marijuana on him when he was searched by police.
A few days before his arrest, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Fazil Mustafa labelled the song as “promoting harmful habits” on his Facebook page, calling Minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov and Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov for action.
“This video, which contains dangerous content both in terms of triviality in music and appearance of women as drug promoters, has led to serious public debates," Mustafayev wrote, adding that the video was “a direct call for crime” and that measures against those who “explicitly dismiss laws and moral values in society” have to be taken.
Abdullayev’s detention has caused various reactions.
Araz Slangue, an Azerbaijani rapper based in the Netherlands, has called Abullayev’s video “the most positive and optimistic" he has ever seen in Azerbaijan.
youth activist Ilkin Rustamzadeh, who was recently released from prison following the Novruz pardon decree, said that arresting people for their music was “unacceptable and disgraceful.”
Republican Alternative Party (REAL) chair Ilgar Mammadov drew parallels to the Mexican music genre ‘narcocorrido’, which often speaks about the lives of the poor, similar to Abdullayev’s song.
“Azerbaijani authorities will not be able to achieve anything with the arrest of a single musician”, Mammadov said, “This music and text come from many social-political and economic troubles. It is necessary to eliminate them, so that Azerbaijan does not become Mexico.