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Russia Bars Showings Of British Comedy 'The Death Of Stalin'


A poster for The Death Of Stalin

Russia's Culture Ministry has shelved the release of the British comedy film The Death Of Stalin.

The ministry declared it was rescinding the permit that would have allowed Scottish writer-director Armando Iannucci's movie to be shown in Russian theaters. The film premiered in Britain in October and was scheduled to open in Russia on January 25.

"The distribution certificate for the film The Death Of Stalin has been withdrawn," a ministry spokeswoman told French news agency AFP.

The ruling came after calls by prominent conservative figures, including film director Nikita Mikhalkov, to prevent the movie from being shown in Russia.

The Culture Ministry had warned in September that it might ban Scottish-born director Armando Ianucci's black comedy, which Communist Party lawmakers described as Western "psychological warfare" at the time.

A license was issued, but there were new calls for its revocation after a recent showing for movie industry figures, lawmakers, Culture Ministry officials, and others.

Yury Polyakov, the head of the Culture Ministry's advisory "public council," told Russian news agency TASS that the movie should not be shown because it contained elements of an "ideological struggle" against Russia.

After the recent showing, "not a single person spoke out in support of this film as a work of art and history," Polyakov said.

Critics of the Kremlin say that Russia will never come to grips with its past, and particularly the crimes committed by the Soviet state under dictator Josef Stalin, if the authorities block efforts to treat it with humor.

Based on reporting by TASS and Meduza