Russia on Monday named two musicians from US rock band Bloodhound Gang as suspects in a criminal case over inciting hatred after a band member stuffed a Russian flag down his trousers.
The bassist of the band, “Evil” Jared Hasselhoff, stuffed a Russian flag down the front of his trousers, pulled it out from the back and threw it into the crowd at a concert in late July in Ukraine.
The incident provoked outrage after videos were posted on YouTube.
The powerful Investigative Committee, the equivalent of the US FBI, said in a statement on its website that it had opened a criminal probe examining the possible guilt of Hasselhoff, referred to by his real name Jared Hennegan, as well as the band’s vocalist, James Franks.
The Investigative Committee accused Hennegan and Franks of inciting hatred in an organised group. If charged and found guilty, they could face up to five years in a penal colony.
It said other suspects could be implicated.
Bloodhound Gang, founded in 1991, has had hits including “The Bad Touch”.
The committee said that it suspected the men of plotting to carry out acts aimed at “humiliating the human dignity of citizens of Russia”.
It said that Franks had also shouted out “insulting expressions in English against Russia” at an earlier concert in Ukraine.
Russia’s interior ministry said last month that it was investigating whether to charge the men with a lesser offence of desecrating a Russian flag, which carries a maximum jail term of one year.
The Investigative Committee said in the statement that foreigners who do not live in Russia can face criminal responsibility if their crime was directed against the interests of Russia and Russians.
“For this reason, the investigation is currently taking steps to put Franks and Hennegan on the wanted list,” it said.
Ukraine last month banned Hennegan from visiting for five years after videos were published on the web of him urinating onstage on a Ukrainian flag.