YEKATERINBURG, November 10. /TASS/. A spectator in Yekaterinburg, the largest city in central Urals, has challenged to a duel the director Alexei Uchitel, who produced the much-spoken-of film ‘Mathilde’ featuring romance between the future Czar Nicholas II and the young star of the Russian Imperial ballet, Mathilde Kschessinska.
Uchitel accepted the challenge.
"I’m Gennady Semyonovich Cheurin, the chief of a center for prevention of social emergency situations," the spectator said after a show in Yeltsin Center. "I hope you know that Czar Nicholas II was the author of the ‘Duel Code’. A duel is a method is restoring dignity without bloodshed, and that’s why I have the honor now, after I’ve watched this film, to send a copy of the genuine ‘Duel Code’ to you."
"The seconds have been appointed on my part and I’m asking you to appoint two seconds as well," Cheurin said. "Then we’ll be able to clear out calmly, without emotions, the provocative role of this film. A duel is handy for restoring your dignity, my dignity and the late Emperor’s dignity."
"I accept this," Uchitel said. "We’ll arrange the time and place later."
Cheurin told TASS that the choice of weapons for the duel was a prerogative of the seconds. "The seconds get together and decide how the duel will be fought. I hope they will choose a bloodless option, including a debate."
"The case in hand is a verbal duel," Uchitel said. "The spectator also handed a letter to me where he said I’d made a unique film but had insulted the Czar."
"I’m ready to accept the challenge but the question is what city it will take place in," he said. "I leave Yekaterinburg tomorrow, and so most probably it will be held in Moscow."
‘Mathilde’ was released nationwide on October 26. The scandal around the film arose from a debate initiated by some sections of the Russian Orthodox community and especially by State Duma deputy Natalya Poklonskaya, who said the film insulted the religious feelings of the churchgoing Russian Orthodox believers.
The Russian Orthodox Church has canonized Czar Nicholas II, Czarina Alexandra, Crown Prince Alexis, and Grand Princesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, brutally slain by Bolshevik revolutionaries in Yekaterinburg in July 1918, as new martyrs for faith and confessors.
Opponents of the film with Poklonskaya at the head demanded a halt of the release of ‘Mathilde’ but Uchitel said her attempts to wield impact on the distribution of the film were inadmissible.