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A news report says Russia is considering banning films that "defame the national culture," threaten the country's unity or "undermine the foundations of constitutional order."

The Interfax news agency cited unidentified Culture Ministry officials as saying a proposed government order would prohibit such movies from receiving licenses to be shown in the nation's theatres.

The report said the order had been expected to enter into force on January 1 but was delayed because discussions within the government are not over.

It comes amid controversy over Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev's film Leviathan, which won the Golden Globe award for best foreign film but has had only limited release at home.

Some suspect Leviathan has been held back because its dark portrait of a man's fight against corrupt authorities hits too close to home for President Vladimir Putin's government.

The order would also set out regulations required under a law adopted last year that bans vulgar and curse words in cinema, theater, and literature.

Chief Editor of Iskusstvo Kino (Cinema Art) magazine, Daniil Dondurei, film director and chairman of Russia's KinoSoyuz (Cinema Makers' Union), Andrei Proshkin harshly criticized the draft resolution, calling it censorship.

Based on reporting by Interfax

SARATOV, Russia -- Two unknown men have severely beaten a local journalist in Russia's southwestern city of Saratov.

Sergei Vilkov, a reporter for the Obshchestvennoye Mneniye (Public Opinion) newspaper in Saratov, was attacked late on January 13 on his way home.

Vilkov said he had seen two attackers near his apartment block the last two days.

The attackers did not take any of Vilkov's belongings and beat him mainly on his face and head. He received medical treatment but refused hospitalization.

Vilkov says the attack was most likely connected to his professional activities.

He is known for his critical articles targeting local Orthodox Church officials, businesspeople, and authorities.

Another Obshchestvennoye Mneniye reporter, Aleksandr Krutov, was viciously attacked by two assailants in August.

No one has been detained in that case.

Attacks on Russian journalists covering crime and corruption are relatively common, particularly in the provinces, and the perpetrators are rarely found.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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