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Moscow Cinema Fined For Showing Stalin Comedy

A screen displays a poster for the British film The Death Of Stalin in a cinema in Novosibirsk in January.

A movie theater in Moscow has been fined 100,000 rubles ($1,750) for showing the banned satirical film The Death Of Stalin.

Russia's Culture Ministry withdrew permission last month for the British-directed film to be shown in theaters, just days before it was supposed to premiere in Russia.

The Pioner movie theater, which specializes in foreign-language films, opted to screen The Death Of Stalin before having received official notice of the ban, but stopped showing the film after two days following a police raid.

A court in Moscow on February 22 found the theater's owner, the Chentromobile-Pioner company, guilty of screening the movie in defiance of the official ban.

Pioner's representatives argued that they screened the banned movie before they received an official letter from the Culture Ministry.

The movie focuses on the power struggle in the Soviet Union immediately after dictator Josef Stalin's death in March 1953.

The film premiered in Britain in October. Prominent Russian conservative figures criticized the movie as a mockery of Russian history.

Pioner Cinema is owned by oligarch Aleksandr Mamut and is popular among the Russian liberal elite.

Based on reporting by Interfax, Rapsinews, and dpa