Russian Federation bans Iannucci's 'vicious' film The Death of Stalin

Black comedy ‘The Death of Stalin’ pulled from Russian cinemas after backlash

The decision followed a closed screening of the movie on Monday, which featured members of the local film industry, representatives of the Russian Historic Society and members of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament.

"A decision on whether it will be shown will be made later", the ministry said in a statement.

The film contained elements "that can be assessed as extremist and aimed at humiliating Russian people", the letter said.

The ministry said it chose to pull the movie's license because it contained "information whose distribution is legally banned in Russian Federation", according to AFP news agency. Now, however, the film's certificate has been pulled amid growing controversy over the film. Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, is played in the movie by Steve Buscemi, with Jeffrey Tambor, Paddy Considine and Michael Palin also making an appearance.

The movie, based on a graphic novel by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin, is centered on the pursuit for power in the USSR following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. As such, the film portrays many real historical figures.

It was not immediately clear if the film could still be shown in Russian Federation at a later date.

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One of the letter's signatories, the head of a public chamber advising the culture ministry, Yury Polyakov, told TASS state news agency the film is "part of an ideological battle against our country".

The Russian national anthem was used in an "offensive way" in the trailer, it added.

"We don't have censorship", Mr Medinsky said. "We're not afraid of critical or hard-hitting assessments of our history", Medinsky said.

"Many people of the older generation, and not only, will regard it as an insulting mockery of all the Soviet past, of the country that defeated fascism and of ordinary people, and what's even worse, even of the victims of Stalinism", the minister said.

But Armando Iannucci said he was "still confident" his movie could be shown in Russian Federation and that the reaction was not reflected by Russia's general populace. They say two things: it's amusing, but it's true.

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