Russia considering ban on 'revolting' film, The Death of Stalin
A black comedy about Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's death could be banned by Russian authorities over fears it could spark violent protests.
An advisor to the Russian culture minister Pavel Pozhigailo said The Death of Stalin - from the creators of political comedies Veep and The Thick of It was a "planned provocation" aimed at angering the country's communists.
He said the film, which is a British-French production and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, could be part of a plot by the west to cause rifts in Russian society and destabilise the country.
The satirical plot revolves around the Kremlin in-fighting that followed Stalin's death from a stroke in 1953.
Due for release in Europe in October, stars Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin's successor, and Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet diplomat. It is directed by Armando Iannucci the man behind the political satires Veep and The Thick Of It. It will be released in New Zealand in February 2018.
Pozhigailo said the culture ministry would stop the film screening in Russia if officials decided it had the potential to "incite hatred".
Russia's Communist party previously called the film "revolting" and Vzglyad, a pro-Kremlin newspaper, called the film "a nasty send-up by outsiders who know nothing of our history … Should it be screened in Russia? Of course not."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he trusted the culture ministry would act responsibly when deciding whether to grant the film a distribution licence.
Stalin's popularity has risen in Russia in recent years. In June, the Soviet tyrant topped a poll from the Moscow-based Levada Centre to find "the most outstanding person" in world history.
The president, Vladimir Putin, took joint second place with Alexander Pushkin, Russia's 19th-century national poet.
Another film inspired by Russia's past has also caused controversy in recent weeks.
Matlida tells the story of the last Russian Czar, Nicholas II and his affair with a ballet dancer. Protesters who objected to the story being told have set fire to a movie theatre and cars.