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Poll shows half of Russians against ban on controversial film Matilda

October 25, 13:33 UTC+3 MOSCOW

53% of respondents said that the state should find and punish radicals guilty of committing unlawful acts against the filmmakers

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© Vyacheslav Prokofiev/TASS

MOSCOW, October 25. /TASS/. As many as 48% of Russians do not support State Duma (lower house of parliament) member Natalya Poklonskaya’s demand to ban the screening of Alexei Uchitel’s controversial film Matilda, the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Society does not support the position of State Duma member Natalya Poklonskaya who says that the movie offends the feelings of believers and should be banned. Only 17% of those polled spoke out in favor of such a ban, while 48% refused to support it," the statement reads. "At the same time, 53% of respondents said that the state should find and punish radicals guilty of committing unlawful acts against the filmmakers," the pollster added.

A total of 33% of Russians said they were going to watch the movie, and 37% admitted that their interest in the movie was simply spurred on by the recent hype. Another 14% said Matilda was of interest to them as a historical movie. A total of 25% said they would not watch the film, while around 40% confessed they had not even heard about it.

"Christian believers make up the majority of our society, but their views do not concur with Poklonskaya’s convictions," All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center Director General Valery Fedorov said commenting on the survey’s results. "Though Natalya herself continues to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens as one of the heroes of the ‘Crimean Spring’, her vendetta against Alexei Uchitel and his movie Matilda has not gathered any support. On the contrary, it sparked interest in the film and stimulated the public’s urge to see it and judge for themselves about its artistic and other merits," he added.

The nationwide poll involving 1,200 people was conducted on October 18-19, 2017. The margin of error does not exceed 3.5% at the 95% confidence level.

Feud over Matilda

The film by Alexei Uchitel, which depicts a romance between the future Russian tsar Nicholas II and ballerina Matilda Kschessinska before his marriage and coronation, is set for release on October 26.

As Nicholas II and his family were executed after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000, a number of activists, including MP Natalia Poklonskaya, launched a campaign against the film, calling for its release to be cancelled and claiming that it will insult the feelings of Orthodox believers. A group calling itself Christian State - Holy Russia sent numerous letters with threats to movie theater owners across Russia, urging them to drop the screening of Matilda.

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, in turn, said that any attempts to exert pressure on cinemas over the screenings of Matilda would amount to censorship and lawlessness. The Ministry of Culture allows the screenings at cinemas in line with legal procedures, Medinsky explained. "The law strictly lays out the grounds for any refusal. There are none of them in case with Matilda. We are guided by the law, not personal preferences."

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