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By Andrew Osborn
LONDON (Reuters) - A new song by a well-known Russian comic that satirises Moscow's war in Ukraine and its supporters has been referred to prosecutors by a patriotic organisation which believes it discredits the army, now a criminal offence.
The song, by Semyon Slepakov, is called "Lullaby" and likens Russia, with dark irony, to a mother who glorifies the idea of dying on the battlefields of Ukraine and believes it is her sons' duty to lay down their lives for her own greatness.
A patriotic organisation called The Foundation for the Protection of National Historical Heritage told the TASS state news agency on Thursday it had referred the song to state prosecutors to check if it flouted a law which carries jail terms of up to five years for discrediting the armed forces.
There was no immediate response to the complaint from state prosecutors or from the justice ministry.
Lawmakers and state TV talk show hosts have also called on the authorities to act against Slepakov, who has worked in Israel since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year in what it calls a "special military operation".
'LATTE AND CHEESECAKE'
In the song, which includes the line "there's nothing better than death in battle", the mother figure representing Russia tells her three-year old son she regrets he is too young to fight, calls her middle son a traitor for becoming an IT worker in Europe, and lionises her eldest son for dying in Ukraine.
"And your older brother went to war on a contract. He didn't sell out his motherland for lattes and cheesecake. He stood up for his friends and for the truth. And what they say about him is fake," sings Slepakov, who is famous in Russia for his musical satire and used to be a regular on Russian television.
The patriotic foundation alleged that the song's lyrics mocked the sincere feelings of Russians who were willing to sacrifice their lives for their country.
Slepakov has more than 1.4 million followers on YouTube, where a video of him singing his song with a guitar has been viewed over 700,000 times since it was released on Tuesday and tens of thousands of times on other platforms.
Some listeners left insulting comments beneath the video, while others thanked Slepakov for what they said was a clever anti-war song.
"Hold tight Semyon!" wrote one listener called Polina. "They (the critics) are now going to come at you from all directions."
(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Gareth Jones)