Opinion: Stalin, a Russian imposition

2018/2/4 22:27:50

The Russian government has banned screenings of a British comedy about Josef Stalin. In doing so, it incapacitates the Russian people and stifles any possibility of dealing with the past, says DW's Miodrag Soric.





Opinion from Deutsche Welle, Jan 25, 2018


"No, there is no censorship in Russia!" said Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky. "No, Moscow is not afraid of critically dealing with its past!" the minister said. Only to forbid screenings of the British comedy "The Death of Stalin" just days before its Russian premiere. 


Supposedly the film violates Russian laws. Though only the minister knows which ones. They cannot be any based on the constitution, because it expressly forbids censorship.


Read more:  Russia bans 'The Death of Stalin' from movie theaters


The minister of culture revealed that the laws it violated were moral in nature. He and a number of representatives in the Duma, Russia's parliament, seem to find it inappropriate that Russian citizens are being offered a lampooning of Josef Stalin, one of the victors of the Second World War, right before the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. 


One of those Duma representatives is communist Yelena Drapeko. She said the film endangered the harmony that Russian society has achieved. Only Stalin put it more eloquently when he announced: "Life's getting better, and happier too."


Read more: Trump media attacks echo Stalin, says Republican Senator Jeff Flake


To be clear: The Russian government has determined that it is to decide what is appropriate for Russian citizens' cultural consumption. And it has determined that which is appropriate for Georgians, Poles, Germans and Americans is not appropriate for Russians.   


The question that remains is why? Doesn't the Kremlin trust citizens to form their own opinions? That is nonsense. Russian citizens are just as mature as any in the West. Russian journalists who were afforded a sneak preview of the Stalin comedy laughed just as heartily at the jokes as their colleagues from Britain and elsewhere.


Read more: Opinion: The Russian Revolution's lessons for modern Russia


The forbidden fruit


An intact society has no fear of open discussion and debate about its own past. Openly and respectfully voicing differences of opinion are part of democracy — in fact they strengthen it. A democracy that has no room for passionate debate is no democracy.




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