Russia Bans the Release of Satire About Stalin’s Death
Russia’s Ministry of Culture cancelled the release of British-French film The Death of Stalin, a satire about Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s death.
Although Stalin commenced purges that killed millions, opinion polls show that he remains the subject of admiration to many Russians, who remember him as the reason for victory during World War II and the person who enabled Russia to become a nuclear superpower. For this reason, the film has been criticized as being disrespectful to Russian history.
"Many elderly people, and not only them, will see it as an insulting derision of the Soviet past, of the country that defeated Nazism, of the Soviet army and ordinary people, and, what is the most appalling, even of the victims of Stalinism," Culture Minister Vladimir Medinski said in a statement.
“It’s an abomination and filth,” said Vladislav Kononov, executive director of the Russian Military-historical Society. "All the characters are portrayed as idiots. They could have been tyrants, but they weren't idiots. It's how the West sees our people."
A group of Russian cultural figures went on to say that the timing of the release, which was set to be January 25, was too close to the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, and the release would be disrespectful to those who died in battle.
The ban was considered as early as September. Russia had purchased the movie rights at this time, but had yet to set a release date.
Although it may be too early to tell, the release in the United States also has the potential to cause some controversy, as tensions between Russia and the United States continue to grow. In March of 2016, Russia hacked the email accounts of those involved in the Clinton presidential campaign, and released damaging secrets about the Democratic party’s candidate, Hillary Clinton. More recently, on January 23, 2018, the Trump administration blamed Russia for a chemical attack on Syrian civilians which took place the day before.
“Whoever conducted the attacks, Russia ultimately bears responsibility,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The Russian military has been backing the Syrian government since 2015.
The Death of Stalin has already been released in such places as the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Estonia, and releases are planned in Sweden, Portugal, and Croatia, among others.