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It has been banned in Russia.

It's been called an "insulting mockery" of the Soviet past.

Police even raided a Moscow cinema that dared to screen it.

It, of course, is Scottish director Armando Iannucci's black comedy The Death Of Stalin, which lampoons the power struggles, intrigue, and backstabbing that followed the Soviet dictator's demise in 1953.

What does Russia's official reaction to this highly acclaimed film tell us?

Is it simply about Russians' sensitivity about the darkest chapters of their history?

Or is it something more?

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we take a look at the Kremlin's sacred cows and what the scandal over this and other films tells us about Russia today.

Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, head of its Center for European Security, and author of the forthcoming book Vory: Russia's Super Mafia; and Anna Arutunyan, a Moscow-based senior analyst on Russia for the International Crisis Group and author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult.

Enjoy...

The Power Vertical Podcast: Black Comedy, Dark History
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About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or

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