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The Death of Stalin: Why is movie being banned in Russia?

Scene from The Death of Stalin
A scene from The Death of Stalin, a satire about what happened after the dictator’s death

The Death of Stalin is causing a storm in Russia with police today raiding a cinema that defied a ban to screen it — but why is the movie being censored in the country?

The film, from Scottish director Armando Iannucci, is a dark comedy satire which tells of the power struggle which came after the Soviet dictator’s death in March 1953.

The movie was set to be released on January 25 in Russia after initially being given the the green light from the country’s ministry of culture. However, the permission for the release was withdrawn after it was branded “insulting” and contained possible elements of “extremism”.

Police were today seen visiting the art-house Pioneer Cinema in central Moscow after they screened the film in defiance of the ban.

What did officials have to say about The Death of Stalin?

According to the Guardian, Pavel Pozhigailo, a member of the advisory committee, called it “blaspehmous” and said the film “insults our historic symbols – the Soviet anthem, orders and medals”.

Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said: “Many people of the older generation, and not only, will regard it as an insulting mockery of all the Soviet past, of the country that defeated fascism and of ordinary people, and what’s even worse, even of the victims of Stalinism.”

Poster for The Death of Stalin
The poster for The Death of Stalin, directed by Armando Iannucci

It had previously been recommended that the release be postponed so that it would not clash with the 75th anniversary in February of the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943.

Has The Death of Stalin been banned elsewhere?

No, due to the subject matter Russia is believed to be the only country that has banned it so far. The Death of Stalin is set to be released in the US on March 9, 2018. It was released last October in the UK.

Julian is the editor of Monsters & Critics. He has worked as a journalist for more than ten years, previously as an editor at the... read more
Julian Cheatle


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