Yekaterinburg cinema burns in Matilda protest

4 September 2017

This morning an “Orthodox football fan” set fire to Yekaterinburg’s Kosmos cinema in an act of protest against Alexey Uchitel’s contentious upcoming historical drama Matilda, the RBC media group reports.

The man, named as Denis Marashov, drove an UAZ van filled with gas cylinders, firewood and barrels of petrol into the entrance of the cinema, throwing a Molotov cocktail into the car as he left the building and leaving behind him a fire covering 30 square metres. Bar the attacker himself, nobody was hurt in the attack.

Following the incident, Yekaterinburg mayor Yevgeny Roizman took to Twitter to lay blame on State Duma deputy Natalia Poklonskaya, the main opponent of Matilda‘s release, accusing her of inciting hatred.

The as-yet-unreleased Matilda has already been the subject of considerable controversy and criticism both from representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and government officials. Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), often referred to as the personal confessor of Russian President Vladimir Putin, dubbed the movie “slander” in its portrayal of Nicholas II, while earlier this year Russian State Duma deputy Natalia Poklonskaya collected 100,000 messages and signatures from citizens and officials against the film.

The incident in Yekaterinburg seems to fulfill statements by activists from the Christian State — Holy Rus organisation earlier this year that, where Matilda is shown, “cinemas will burn, people may even be hurt”. In addition, last week Uchitel called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the FSB to ensure the safety of cinema spectators, after his studio was attacked by arsonists.

In spite of calls to ban the film by religious conservatives, Russia’s Ministry of Culture cleared Matilda for release last month, although individual regional authorities will be able to ban it on their territory.

The premiere of Matilda is scheduled for 6 October 2017 at St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre.

Source: Afisha Daily (in Russian)