Censorship · Information Warfare · Mind Control · Propaganda · Russia

Russia outlaws films that ‘threaten national unity’ or ‘defile culture’

A scene from Leviathan, whose less than patriotic stance could see it banned.

In yet another attempt to decrease opposition and increase nationalistic media, Russia has banned films that “defile the national culture, posing a threat to national unity”.

“Leviathan”, picture on the right, has been banned in Russia after being submitted as the Russian entry, to Cannes.

Russians have likened this to Soviet rule, I compare it with Nazis and Goebbels.

As pointed out in the article, the rules will be difficult to enforce, highly subjective and will ultimately demonstrate to Russian citizens what their government fears most – personal opinions based on the truth.  Then they will ask, ‘what is the government not allowing us to see? What scares the government so much, what is it they feel will cause us to rise up?’

The Russian people are losing their freedoms quickly.  Will they even know?


Move criticised by film directors as being a relic of the Soviet era, following law banning profanity in Russian films

Russia has introduced new rules regarding the issuing of exhibition licenses for films, decreeing that films “defiling the national culture, posing a threat to national unity and undermining the foundations of the constitutional order” will not be allowed to be screened in cinemas.

It follows a law passed in 2014 that bans any use of profanity in films, and a wider campaign by culture minister Vladimir Medinsky to foster national strength through cultural institutions. He called for a “patriotic” internet, and for media to “consolidate the state and society on the basis of values instilled by our history”.

The new rules haven’t yet become law – they were due to come into force on 1 January, but are going through a reviews process in other ministries.

Filmmakers have reacted angrily to the proposals. “Who is going to decide that the culture has been besmeared? The ministry? The public? A court? And on the basis of what?” director Andrei Proshkin told Russian news agency Interfax. “How do you determine legally that the culture has been besmeared? And what can besmear a culture more in the 21st century than such laws?”

“What is ‘national unity’? This is a completely new term, it didn’t exist in the past,” said Daniil Dondurei, editor of Russian film magazine Iskusstvo Kino. “In the past, all we had was [the term] anti-Soviet propaganda.” Sam Klebanov of distribution company Kino Bez Granits added: “This is, of course, primarily aimed at bringing domestic filmmakers in line, and pointing out to them their place as the ‘wait staff’ in the new ideological hierarchy.”

The changes come as Russia’s culture ministry should be celebrating a big success: Leviathan, which has won the 2015 Golden Globe for foreign film and is nominated for an Oscar in the same category. But the film is being snubbed, with Medinsky saying: “I did not recognise myself, my colleagues, friends or even friends of friends in Leviathan’s characters.” The film depicts a man struggling against a corrupt local bureaucrat, and is seen as a satire on the wider frustrations of the Russian political system. It has been submitted to the new rules on profanity for its upcoming theatrical release.

One Russian lawmaker has petitioned Dmitry Medvedev to take back the state funding for the film, writing: “The film director used people’s money to make a dishonest and anti-national picture which is conspicuously at odds with traditional Russian culture, discredits the classical school of Russian cinematography and is inciting hatred in society.”

Medinsky has form when it comes to dictating the kind of cultural expression made in his country. He once said that makers of historical films should be “told what’s good, and what’s bad”, and that, regarding state funding, “all flowers should grow but we will only water the ones we like.” Leviathan’s director Andrei Zvyagintsev recently told the Guardian that Medinsky should have been fired for the latter comment.