Accessibility links

Breaking News

Embattled Russian Wartime Comedy Restored To YouTube


The film received over 1 million views on YouTube.
The film received over 1 million views on YouTube.

The director of a controversial Russian film set during the World War II-era blockade of Leningrad has reportedly been summoned for questioning by the Moscow police.

Filmmaker Aleksei Krasovsky was summoned on January 20 by the department of economic security and combating corruption of the Moscow police department, an unidentified police source told the Interfax news agency.

Earlier in the day, Krasovsky's film Celebration (Prazdnik) was briefly removed from the YouTube video-hosting site. Access to the film was restored after a few hours.

Krasovsky posted on Facebook that the film had been removed from YouTube without explanation.

Krasovsky posted the entire film on the website on January 3 after deciding not to submit it to the Russian Culture Ministry for a distribution license.

The film was widely criticized by Russian officials and state media as offensive to the memory of the victims of the blockade. State television commentator Dmitry Kiselyov compared the film to Nazi propaganda. St. Petersburg prosecutors opened an investigation into the film.

Celebration tells the story of a well-off family's preparations to mark the New Year in the blockaded city. The head of the family is a Communist Party biologist who has received special parcels of provisions. The film has garnered more than 1 million views during the time it was available on YouTube, with viewers donating more than 3 million rubles ($45,000) to support it.

"All sorts of investigations into the film began from two directions," Krasovsky told RFE/RL on January 4. "There was an economic investigation on suspicion of corruption. Although we made the film with my money and the money of the cinematographer, they decided to open a case on that charge. The second direction was extremism or terrorism…. There were also many tax inspections and fines."

The siege of Leningrad lasted 872 days from September 1941 until January 27, 1943. It is estimated that about 1.2 million civilians died during the blockade, most of starvation or exposure.