Russian politicians fail to see funny side of 'Death of Stalin'

20Oct 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Russian politicians fail to see funny side of 'Death of Stalin'

BRITISH satirist Armando Iannucci has won critical praise in Britain for his latest film - a darkly comic look at the power struggle to succeed Joseph Stalin - but in Russia not all politicians share the joke.


One communist politician branded it “abominable filth.” 

“The Death of Stalin,” which stars Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Isaacs, held its U.K. premiere on Tuesday night. As the title suggests, it features a scene depicting the Soviet dictator’s demise in 1953. 

“The comedy is about what’s going on inside the Kremlin, the power struggle, you know, the frantic kind of fight for survival really,” Iannucci told Reuters. 

“That’s where the comedy comes and the paranoia that’s going on as well. But the consequences of these people’s actions is what ripples out across the Soviet Union - we show that for real.” 

There has been no comment from the Kremlin about the film. But communist members of the Russian parliament are calling for a ban on its release in Russia. 

Russian Communist party spokesman Alexander Yushchenko, himself a parliamentarian, described the film as “abominable filth,” in an interview cited by the party’s website. 

“Today’s support – including for Stalin and (state founder Vladimir) Lenin – is on the rise, first and foremost among young people,” he said. 

The film as yet does not have a Russian release date listed on the film industry website 

Sergei Obukhov, another senior member of the Russian communist party, drew a similar conclusion saying the film was “a new form of psychological warfare against our country.” 

Stalin ruled Russia for three decades during which he is widely held responsible for the deaths of millions of people, many in the Gulag network of labor camps. 

The image of the dictator appears to be going through something of a rehabilitation in Russia though. A poll by the Russia’s Levada Centre in June found that respondents considered Stalin the “most outstanding person” in history, followed by present-day president, Vladimir Putin. 

Iannucci has won dozens of awards for his foul-mouthed political comedies “The Thick Of It” and “Veep”, which center on dysfunctional politicians in Britain and the United States respectively.