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The Russian government cancels the release of the comedy ‘The Death of Stalin’

Update: The Russian Culture Ministry has revoked the film distribution license it granted to “The Death of Stalin,” a film satirizing the death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. The movie was supposed to premiere nationwide on January 25. State officials cited a bylaw empowering the Culture Ministry to revoke a distribution license in the event that a film is revealed to “contain information” that cannot be legally distributed in Russia.

The film is scheduled to premiere in Russia in just two days, but the Culture Ministry’s Public Council says it wants to delay the release of Armando Iannucci’s political satire “The Death of Stalin” until at least the summer, out of respect for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, which concluded on February 2, 1943. The film was screened for Public Council members on January 22. (They didn’t like it.)

Pavel Pozhigailo, a member of the Culture Ministry’s Public Council, says Iannucci’s black comedy insults Soviet history and is “undesirable“ to have in cinemas ahead of the March presidential election. He’s also convinced that the movie “violates Russian laws,” though Russia’s Culture Ministry has already reviewed the film and said it’s okay to show the public.

The Culture Ministry recently abandoned a short-lived effort to postpone the release of “Paddington 2,” after movie theater owners penned a scathing public letter against regulatory interference. The government says it was only trying to help Russia’s domestic film industry.