Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russian Stand-Up Comedian Who Joked About Church, Putin Flees Country

Alexander Dolgopolov
Alexander Dolgopolov

Russian stand-up comedian Aleksandr Dolgopolov has fled Russia fearing for his safety after learning police had started investigating videos taken at his performances in different clubs.

Dolgopolov’s lawyer Leonid Solovyov and his concert director Armen Gandilyan confirmed with Current Time on January 23 that the comedian had decided to leave his homeland, though they did not say where.

Police officials in Moscow said a day earlier that Dolgopolov's performances caught the eye of law enforcement after an unidentified resident of the city of Orekhovo-Zuyevo near Moscow had filed a complaint against the comedian, accusing him of "insulting the feelings of believers" in God. No details were given on what exactly in Dolgopolov’s act offended the man.

Dolgopolov told Current Time on January 22 that he had to cancel a performance in a Moscow bar after he learned that a man in civilian clothes asked the bar's managers whether the comedian was already inside the establishment.

The comedian added that after he was informed about the man, he and his team decided to leave the bar immediately. He later left the country.

"I just speak, tell jokes, I didn’t plan to be persecuted for just joking," he said.

Dolgopolov wrote on Instagram that Moscow police had sent a formal letter to the HopHead standup club in St. Petersburg, asking to confirm if it was the venue for Dolgopolov's performance called An Hour of Jokes in February 2019.

In the show, Dolgopolov tells expletive-laden jokes about a Slavic name -- Bogdan (which translates from Russian to God given) -- and why Mary chose the name Jesus for her child. He also mocks his childhood religious beliefs and the church in general.

Dolgopolov also takes shots at President Vladimir Putin in some of his shows.

"If Putin issues a decree, ordering all Russians to jump into lava, they will say: 'Oh, God, where will we find lava, we don't have it in our yard. What shall we do, our wise chief?" Dolgopolov jokes in the performance in question.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.