'The Death of Stalin': Why Russia Banned the Controversial Comedy

One official said she had "never seen anything so disgusting."

eOne Films

From the creators of Veep and The Thick of It comes a film so hardcore that Russian officials chose to ban it entirely. This, coming from the same movie industry that distributed an Avengers knock-off that includes a machine gun-toting werebear as the romantic lead. What a strange era we live in.

Russia’s Ministry of Culture has effectively banned Armando Iannucci’s newest black comedy The Death of Stalin, labeling the film “ideological warfare.” Specifically, they’ve withdrawn permission for its release in Russia, which was supposed to happen on Thursday. The decision came after a massive outcry following a screening for parliamentarians on Monday night.

Speaking to RBK news, Yelena Drapeko — the deputy head of the lower house of parliament’s culture committee — reportedly said that she had “never seen anything so disgusting,” citing “elements of extremism” in the film. Independent reports that one high-ranking official described it as “a western plot to destabilize Russia by ‘causing rifts in society.’”


'The Death of Stalin' might never release in Russia now.

eOne Films

The Death of Stalin satirizes the political turmoil in Moscow following the wake of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953. Actors like Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jason Isaacs play figures from real-life that instead act like foul-mouthed caricatures.

Under particular scrutiny is Jason Isaacs’s (Star Trek: Discover, Harry Potter) raucous portrayal of Marshal Georgy Zhukov, who was a major figure that led the Russians to victory against the Nazis in World War II. Time reports that Zhukov’s daughter and 21 others petitioned the culture ministry to ban the film even before this recent screening.

If The Death of Stalin film does for Russia politics what it did for America in Veep and Britain in *The Thick of It, then it’s probably a crass albeit brutally honest look at the decrepit nature of the modern political scene. Iannucci usually offers foul-mouthed and totally hilarious satire, the kind that American and British people are pretty chill with. But the Russians aren’t.

To be fair, Peter Capaldi’s character in The Thick of It does wield the term “lubricated horse cock” to insult a subordinate official, so you can only imagine what sort of offensive scenes appear in The Death of Stalin.

The Death of Stalin will be released on March 9, 2018 in the United States, where it will almost definitely never get banned.

For even more exciting Jason Isaacs action watch this:

Related Tags