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Daghestani Muftis Join Move Against Film About Tsar's Romance With Ballerina

Russian State Duma Deputy Natalya Poklonskaya attends the opening of a chapel in honor of Tsar Nicholas II and his family at the Crimean prosecutor's office in Simferopol in October.

MAKHACHKALA, Russia -- The Mufti's Office in Russia's North Caucasus region of Daghestan has joined a move initiated by a lawmaker and Russian Orthodox activists to prevent a romantic film about Tsar Nicholas II from being screened in Russia.

The Mufti's Office told RFE/RL on February 15 that it officially supports efforts by Russian State Duma deputy Natalya Poklonskaya to investigate the unreleased film, Matilda, by director Aleksei Uchitel.

Poklonskaya, who was the Kremlin-appointed prosecutor-general in Crimea from the time Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory in March 2014 until September, has been trying to ban the film, saying that it portrays Nicholas -- a canonized Russian Orthodox saint -- as a sinner.

The movie details Nicholas's relationship with Russian ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya when he was an unmarried prince.

She also charges that Uchitel wrongly portrays Russia as a country full of "drunkards, fornicators, and gallows."

Poklonskaya said on February 12 that she received a letter from Muslims in one of Russia's regions who expressed concerns about the film, saying that Nicholas's name was sacred for Muslims as well.

Poklonskaya did not say exactly who sent her the letter or which region they lived in.

A leading Daghestani expert on Islam, Ziautdin Uvaisov, told RFE/RL on February 15 that the name of the Russian tsar cannot be sacred for Muslims simply because he was canonized by the Orthodox Church.

Uchitel's lawyer, Konstantin Dobrynin, urged the State Duma on February 13 to stop Poklonskaya's efforts "to use a Muslim card in her campaign against the film."