Russia bans Cinderella over 'political message': report

12th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Far Eastern Russian region tried to ban a New Year's production of Cinderella on the grounds it contains a subliminal political message about contested time zone changes, reports said Wednesday.

The authorities in Kamchatka became unhappy with the play after audiences responded uproariously to an apparent parallel with a hugely controversial change to bring the far-flung volcanic region closer to Moscow time.

Following a decree from President Dmitry Medvedev, the Kamchatka region last year moved to a time zone that is eight hours rather than nine hours ahead of Moscow, a move that has already sparked street protests.

The authorities became aware that audiences at the theatre in the region's main city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky were furiously applauding a scene were the king turns the clock back to keep Cinderella at the ball.

"Four shows were a massive success," the former governor of Kamchatka, Mikhail Mashkovtsev wrote in a posting on his blog that first drew attention to the scandal.

"And at the fifth -- which most unfortunately happened to be attended by a close aide of the regional governor -- the scene where Cinderella does not leave the ball aroused particularly passionate applause."

"The governor was informed and it was ordered that the play should be banned," he said.

The Kommersant daily, quoting actors and employees of the theatre, confirmed a ban had been ordered but said the authorities could now be forced to go back on their order.

"The artists were told that the play was being ended because it was increasing social tensions. They were ordered to say it was for technical reasons," it quoted a theatre employee as saying.

The artists then threatened to stage a protest against censorship and Kommersant said that a new performance could now go ahead on Thursday. All the tickets have been sold.

The time zone change has proved hugely sensitive in the Kamchatka region as residents complain it will mean they spend even more of the day in darkness during the winter months.

Many inhabitants of Russia's Far East pride themselves on independent attitudes and often look down with scorn on the actions of the authorities thousands of kilometres away in Moscow.

In December 2008, the authorities flew in riot police from Moscow to break up a mass demonstration against hikes in tariffs on imported cars in the main Far Eastern city of Vladivostok.

© 2011 AFP

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