Russian hardline lawmaker claims fraud in latest attempt to ban Matilda

6 September 2017

In her most recent attempt to see Alexey Uchitel's contentious upcoming historical drama Matilda banned, Russian State Duma deputy Natalia Poklonskaya has accused the filmmakers of financial fraud.

Yesterday the lawmaker posted on Facebook regarding the alleged fraud, claiming that she had seen “documents on Matilda's doubtful funding schemes, which may evidence corruption violations”.

According to Ms Poklonskaya, among the papers she found “contracts for the transfer of millions of euros from an offshore Cypriot company to a notorious art and culture fund” and that this money was allocated specifically to Matilda. The lawmaker then stated that the documents in question would be passed to law enforcement agencies.

This is just the latest effort by Ms Poklonskaya to get the as-yet-unreleased Matilda banned in Russia. In July this year, she collected 100,000 messages and signatures from citizens and officials against the film. The historical drama, which centres on ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska and her relationship with Nicholas II, has 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.

On Monday this week, an activist set fire to Yekaterinburg's Kosmos cinema in an act of protest against the film. Following the incident, Yekaterinburg mayor Yevgeny Roizman took to Twitter to lay blame on Ms Poklonskaya, accusing her of inciting hatred.

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 film's premiere is scheduled for 6 October 2017 at St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre.

Source: Lenta (in Russian)