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A Moscow movie theater flouts Russia's ban on ‘The Death of Stalin,’ and punishment is on the way

Meduza

Despite the Culture Ministry’s decision to revoke the distribution license for “The Death of Stalin,” Moscow’s “Pioneer” movie theater showed the film twice on Thursday, and 11 more screenings are planned before February 3.

According to the news agency RIA Novosti, every single showtime is already sold out. The government has threatened to fine the cinema as much as 100,000 rubles ($1,800) for showing the film without a distribution license, but the theater’s management claims the Culture Ministry’s original license is still technically in force.

If a movie theater continues showing an unlicensed film after incurring a fine, it can be shut down for up to 90 days. So far, the government has only threatened “Pioneer,” but AFP Moscow correspondent Ola Cichowlas tweeted photos from the theater on Friday afternoon showing several police officers inside the building.

At the time of this writing, the officers refused to tell Cichowlas what was going on, claiming they’d only come to watch a movie. According to Matthew Bodner, another Moscow-based journalist, the police were apparently collecting evidence of ticket sales.