Russian police raid cinema showing Death Of Stalin | Venue faces shutdown for defying ban

Russian police raid cinema showing Death Of Stalin

Venue faces shutdown for defying ban

Armed police yesterday raided a Moscow cinema that defied a government ban to screen Armando Iannucci’s satire The Death of Stalin.

The AFP news agency released footage showing officers arriving at the Pioner arthouse cinema and quizzing staff.

Last night the cinema posted on Facebook: ‘Dear friends, for reasons beyond our control, the Pioneer cinema has been forced to stop screening the film The Death of Stalin. For all questions, please contact the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.’

It was accompanied by an image of street art from Australia bearing the slogan: ‘Free Speech (*Conditions Apply)’

Russia’s culture ministry withdrew the distribution licence for the dark comedy just days before its planned release on Thursday.

Cultural and political figures had lobbied minister Vladimir Medinsky to suspend the certificate, claiming the film ‘contains information that can be regarded as extremist, aimed at humiliating human dignity’.

More than 20 signatories – including film directors and historians – wrote an open letter saying: ’Not only is this a work with very poor actors and a careless and untruthful backdrop, the film is also a libel on the history of our country, an evil and absolutely inappropriate alleged "comedy" that demonises the memory of our citizens who defeated fascism.’

Nadezhda Usmanova, the head of the Russian Military Historical Society, told Reuters the film was ‘vile, repugnant and insulting’,

The ministry has said any cinemas that showed the film would face fines and possibly temporary closure.

But Russians who saw the film at packed-out screenings at the Pioner had divided opinions.

One told Radio Free Europe: ‘There’s nothing insulting about this except for the way it’s been handled by our cultural officials. They are disgracing themselves.

Another said: ‘I lived through that time and remember everything very clear. There’s nothing [in the film] that I find objectionable or insulting.’

However a third cinema-goer said the humour was ‘weak’, adding: ‘You can’t even compare it to Monty Python.’

Published: 27 Jan 2018

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