Armed Russian police have raided a Moscow arthouse cinema that defied a government ban on the screening of the Scottish director Armando Iannucci’s dark comedy The Death of Stalin.
Six police officers and a number of plainclothes officials arrived at the Pioneer cinema in central Moscow on Friday after the midday screening of the film, which revolves around the bitter in-fighting following the death of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1953. Officers would only confirm that they were carrying out an investigation.
Plainclothes officials questioned staff and collected evidence that the film had been shown. Pioner management declined to comment on the raid, but staff insisted that further scheduled screenings of the film would go ahead. The culture ministry says cinemas that show it will face fines and possible temporary closure.
The raid came just days after the culture ministry abruptly withdrew permission for The Death of Stalin’s release on the eve of its scheduled January 25th nationwide premiere after government officials and pro-Kremlin cultural figures had attended a private viewing.