Moscow Raid on Movie Theater Closes ‘The Death of Stalin’

Moscow Raid on Movie Theater Closes ‘The Death of Stalin’

“This is a revolting film and a mockery of our history, our heroes, in particular of my father,” Maria Zhukova told the Russian Military Historical Society, an organization that promotes Mr. Medinsky’s ideological causes. “The way in which all Soviet people are depicted is quite simply offensive. First of all for the descendants of those depicted in it and likewise for war veterans.”

Pioner Cinema is near Victory Park, Moscow’s main World War II monument.

The culture ministry revoked the distribution license for “The Death of Stalin” on Tuesday and two days later, just as Pioner started screenings, issued a statement saying that violators could face fines or shutdowns of up to 90 days. It also noted that cultural figures who had written a letter to Mr. Medinsky calling for the film’s ban had found that it “contains information that can be evaluated as extremist, directed toward abasing the dignity of Russian (Soviet) people.”

“Extremism” has been used in Russia in recent years as a blanket charge applied both against those who are considered terrorists and those who have crossed ideological lines.

Several people who purportedly signed the letter have denied doing so in recent days, but one actual signer, Yelena Drapeko, an actress turned outspoken parliamentarian, upped the ante on Wednesday, calling for the formation of a “council on morality” to serve as a cultural watchdog. Her words stoked fears about creeping Stalinism and censorship in Russia.

Perhaps the quirkiest claim against the film came from Stalin’s great-grandson, Jacob Jugashvili, who wrote on Facebook that the creators of “The Death of Stalin” are unlikely to “make a comedy called ‘TheDeath of Kim Il Sung,’” because North Korea, unlike Russia, is a strong country that will not stand for it.

“‘The Death of Stalin’ appeared only because WE allowed them to do this,” wrote Mr. Jugashvili.

On Saturday, Pioner Cinema was silent as a tomb, showing Michael Haneke’s dismal “Happy End.” “Paddington 2,” which faced its own travails recently when its release was pushed back by the Culture Ministry to make way for “Going Vertical,” a patriotic basketball film, was also on the day’s schedule.

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