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‘We don't have censorship,’ says Russian culture minister, explaining why ‘The Death of Stalin’ has been pulled from cinema distribution

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has commented on the government’s decision to withdraw its distribution license for the satirical film “The Death of Stalin.” According to Medinsky, “Many older people, and quite a few others, view this [movie] as an offensive mockery of the entire Soviet past, of the country that defeated fascism, of the Soviet army, and of ordinary people. And, most distastefully, they see it as even mocking the victims of Stalinism.”

Following the Culture Ministry’s revocation of the film’s distribution license, the movie will be sent for an additional review by an “expert committee.”

“There are moral questions and then there is the law, which guides us and forms the basis of the demands correctly laid out by lawyers for the Culture Ministry in the announcement after the film was screened,” Medinsky said in a statement published on the government’s website.

We don’t have censorship. We’re not afraid of critical or hard-hitting assessments of our history. In this department, we could give anyone a run for their money. [...] But there’s a moral boundary between the critical analysis of history and pure mockery.

Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky

Earlier on Tuesday, Russia's Culture Ministry 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.

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