Support The Moscow Times!

'Mathilde' Film Director’s Studio Attacked With Molotov Cocktails

Director Alexei Uchitel Alexander Nikolaev / Interpress / TASS

A studio belonging to a director whose upcoming film about a Tsar's love affair has drawn sharp criticism from Orthodox activists was attacked last night in St. Petersburg.

A fire broke out at filmmaker Alexei Uchitel's studio at around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday morning after unknown assailants threw Molotov cocktails at the building, a spokesperson for the local branch of the Interior Ministry was cited as saying by the state-run RIA news agency Thursday.

Investigators are looking into whether the attack on the Rock Films studio was linked to a private screening of Uchitel's “Mathilde,” a film detailing the love affair between Tsar Nicholas II and ballet dancer Mathilde Kschessinska, the local outlet reported. “Mathilde” is due for release in late October.

Duma Deputy Natalia Poklonskaya and Orthodox activists have described the film as offensive to believers.

In February, a vigilante group called "Christian State — Holy Russia" sent a letter to dozens of cinema managers, saying “cinemas would burn, maybe people will even suffer” if the film was shown.

In comments to the BBC’s Russian service on Thursday, Uchitel said authorities had ignored repeated calls to take action in response to the intimidation.

“This looks like the result of those earlier threats,” he said. “Today is both Mathilde Kschessinska’s birthday, and mine. I think these are not simple coincidences.”

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

The Moscow Times’ team of journalists has been first with the big stories on the coronavirus crisis in Russia since day one. Our exclusives and on-the-ground reporting are being read and shared by many high-profile journalists.

We wouldn’t be able to produce this crucial journalism without the support of our loyal readers. Please consider making a donation to The Moscow Times to help us continue covering this historic time in the world’s largest country.