Russian Federation bans 'extremist' British comedy 'The Death of Stalin'

Black comedy ‘The Death of Stalin’ pulled from Russian cinemas after backlash

Russia's culture ministry has withdrawn permission for the release of Armando Iannucci's black comedy The Death of Stalin, after officials and top arts figures labelled the movie offensive and extremist.

The culture ministry and the film's director could not be reached for comment.The film, which focuses on the back-stabbing and in-fighting of the Soviet leader's closest allies as they vie for power immediately after his death, was viewed by culture ministry officials and advisors at the weekend."It's a despicable film", said Nadezhda Usmanova, head of the Russian Military Historical Society's department of information.

Yury Polyakov, a writer and head of an advisory body for the Culture Ministry, told TASS on January 23 that Russian viewers should be protected, and the film should not be screened.

Veep creator Iannucci told the Guardian: "All the Russians we've shown the film to so far, including Russian press, have said how much they enjoyed and appreciated the film".

The ministry said it made a decision to pull the movie's license because it contained "information whose distribution is legally banned in Russian Federation", according to AFP news agency.

"The Death of Stalin" was nominated for two BAFTA Awards for adapted screenplay and British film of the year.

President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, has taken a cautious stance on Stalin's role in Russia's history, denouncing the purges but also emphasizing Soviet-era achievements.

"Not a single person expressed support for the film as an artistic or historical work", he said. "It is a template of an ideological struggle against our country", he said.

Aleksandr Khinshtein, an adviser to the director of the Russian National Guard, derided the film as "unusual trash to say the least". "That violates the rules for granting films rental licenses", he added.

The letter said the film should be delayed until after February, when Russian Federation is set to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad - a revered victory for Soviet forces against Germany during World War II.

The film "insults our historic symbols - the Soviet anthem, orders and medals", Pavel Pozhigailo, a member of the culture ministry's public council, RBC channel on Tuesday.

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