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Moscow International Film Festival Excludes Movie About Nagorno-Karabakh Amid Clashes

The 42th Moscow International Film Festival is under way.
The 42th Moscow International Film Festival is under way.

The 42th Moscow International Film Festival has excluded a movie about the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh due to safety concerns after fighting broke out between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the separatist region.

The festival's program director Kirill Razlogov said on October 1 that the film, Gates To Heaven, was excluded from the festival's program at the last minute since it is about journalists covering a four-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2016.

Razlogov said that Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Russia had asked the festival's administration to exclude the film from the program earlier, but his request had been rejected.

However, after fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh broke out on September 27 and then worsened, it was decided to take the film out of the program, Razlogov added.

The two sides have reported the death of nearly 200 people, including many civilians, in heavy clashes involving the use of armed drones, tanks, helicopters, and multiple-rocket systems along much of the Line of Contact that separates the ethnic-Armenian forces who control Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan's troops.

The clashes, considered the worst eruption of violence since a 1994 cease-fire ended a war over the breakaway territory, has threatened to draw in Russia, a member of a security alliance with Armenia, and NATO member Turkey.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been in conflict since 1988, when mostly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its secession from Azerbaijan.

In the course of the 1992-1994 armed conflict, Azerbaijan lost control over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.

Negotiations on a peaceful settlement of the conflict conducted by the OSCE Minsk Group, which is chaired by the United States, France, and Russia, have failed to bring a solution.

The annual Moscow International Film Festival was supposed to be held in April, but due to coronavirus pandemic it was moved to October 1-8.

Based on reporting by Ekho Moskvy, TASS, and Interfax

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