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Russian bans release of UK black comedy film 'The Death of Stalin'

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By Katy Dartford
Russian bans release of UK black comedy film 'The Death of Stalin'

Russia has cancelled the release of the black comedy, "Death of Stalin" after officials and top arts figures labelled it offensive and extremist.

The release of the film had already been postponed to avoid it clashing with the 75th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Nadezhda Usmanova, head of the Russian Military-Historical Society’s department of information said, "Undoubtedly such a film should not be on the screens of our country, because in the first place it insults our people in general, not just those who lived at that time, those people featured as characters of this film, but even for instance you and me."

The film, from British director Armando Iannucci, focuses on the back-stabbing and in-fighting of the Soviet leader's closest allies immediately after his death.

Russia’s Communist party called it 'a form of psychological pressure against the country.'

After the preview screening, 21 people signed a letter urging the culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, to delay the release and check if the acclaimed film broke any Russian laws. 

The letter castigated the film for “lampooning the history of our country” and “blackening the memory of our citizens who conquered fascism”.

But Armando Iannucci said he was "still confident" his movie could be shown in Russia and that the reaction was not reflected by Russia's general populace.

"The comedy is about what's going on inside the Kremlin, the power struggle, you know, the frantic kind of fight for survival really. That's where the comedy comes and the paranoia that's going on as well".

The Death of Stalin, which was released in the UK in October, picked up four British Independent Film awards last year.