Russian cinemas shun Khodorkovsky film: distributor

22nd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Only one cinema in Moscow has agreed to screen the Russian premiere next month of a documentary on the jailed Yukos boss and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, distributors told AFP on Tuesday.

"Just one cinema in Moscow has agreed to release 'Khodorkovsky'. All the others have refused to sign a contract with us," said a spokeswoman for the Kinoclub distributors, Nadezhda Smirnova.

And in Russia's second largest city of Saint Petersburg, "not a single cinema has wanted to distribute 'Khodorkovsky' so far", she added.

The film by German director Cyril Tuschi was one of the most highly awaited entries to the Berlin Film Festival in February and it was released in Europe in November.

But its Russian release date has been pushed back several times and the national premiere is now set for December 1, although Smirnova was unable to name the venue.

In Moscow, only one independent cinema in the suburbs has agreed to show the film, along with around a dozen cinemas in the whole of Russia, Smirnova said, linking this to December polls that ruling party United Russia led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to win.

"In our opinion, it's a subject that the cinemas would not like to bring up on the eve of the parliamentary elections" on December 4, she said.

"Even though it's a film that does not make any scandalous revelations -- it just puts together what has already been published on this subject in the media -- people are afraid of the word Khodorkovsky," Smirnova said.

None of the major cinema chains in Moscow contacted by AFP on Tuesday would comment on the film.

The former magnate and his co-accused Platon Lebedev are serving an eight-year sentence issued in 2005 for tax evasion and are set to stay in jail until 2016 after receiving another sentence for fraud.

© 2011 AFP

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