Accessibility links

Breaking News

Christian State Extremist Group's Leader in Russia Detained

Christian State leader Aleksandr Kalinin (file photo)
Christian State leader Aleksandr Kalinin (file photo)

The leader of a Russian extremist group that calls itself Christian State-Holy Rus has been detained as a suspect in a high-profile arson attack.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk said on September 21 that Aleksandr Kalinin was detained on September 20 as a suspect in the September 11 arson attack on cars outside the Moscow office of lawyers for the director of Matilda, a film that has drawn sharp criticism from radical Russian Orthodox and monarchist fringe groups.

Earlier, on September 20, Volk said three men suspected in the attack had been detained. She did not give any names.

A controversy over Matilda, prominent director Aleksei Uchitel's forthcoming movie based on an early romantic liaison of Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, has led to violence and cast a spotlight on radical Russian Orthodox activists.

Opponents of the film say it besmirches the memory of Nicholas, who was killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church together with his family in 2000.

A letter signed by Christian State-Holy Rus and distributed in January said that members across Russia were prepared to sacrifice their lives for its "true Orthodox Christian path" and that showing Matilda could lead to bloodshed and "civil war."

The Culture Ministry approved the film for release in July, and it is scheduled to open nationwide on October 26.

WATCH: Official Trailer For Matilda

But following several attacks appearing to target Uchitel and his film, Russian's biggest cinema chain said on September 12 it would not to show Matilda, citing concerns for the safety of moviegoers.

The announcement came a day after the arson attack, in which authorities say masked men torched two cars near the office of Uchitel’s lawyers and left leaflets that said "To Burn for Matilda."

With reporting by Interfax and TASS
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.