A series of billboards bearing photos and excerpts from love letters between Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Fedorovna have appeared around Moscow, marking the latest chapter in the scandal surrounding the upcoming controversial film Matilda. The campaign, titled Nicholas II and Alexandra Fedorovna. Words of Love, was launched by the press relations department of the Russian Orthodox Church, who plan to erect similar billboards in major cities across Russia. Matilda, set for release next month, tells the story of the romantic relationship between the last tsar and the ballet dancer Mathilde Kschessinska.
Russia’s last tsar is canonised in the Russian Orthodox Church, and the film has been under attack from Orthodox activists who accuse Matilda of “slandering” Nicholas II by suggesting he had an affair before his marriage. Hardline Russian State Duma deputy Natalia Poklonskaya has made several attempts to ban the film, while a cinema in Yekaterinburg was set alight by a self-proclaimed “Orthodox football fan” in protest to the film. Cars were torched outside of the office of a lawyer working for the film’s director, and several cinema chains cancelling the film’s release.
Russian news site TJournal quoted the Church’s PR representative saying: “The project aims to reinforce the family values in the Russian society and give the people an accurate account of the tsar’s family life”.
The campaign is next set to launch in Yekaterinburg, where the Romanov family was executed in 1918.