Support The Moscow Times!

Russia's Biggest Cinema Chain Agrees to Screen Controversial Tsar Biopic ‘Mathilde’

Yuri Smityuk / TASS

Russia’s biggest cinema chain has decided in favor of screening a controversial film about Tsar Nicholas II’s affair with a Polish ballerina.

Last month the “Cinema Park” and “Formula Kino” chain said it had scrapped plans to screen the “Mathilde” biopic across its cinemas in 22 Russian cities.

That decision was seen as capitulation to a vigilante group called “Christian State — Holy Rus,” which threatened that "cinemas would burn” if the film was shown.

Now, the film network’s public relations director says law enforcement agencies have made steps to improve security at its cinemas following the chain’s Sept. 12 statement.

“This allowed us to decide to return the film’s release to our cinemas,” Alexandra Artamonova told the RBC business outlet on Friday. The film premieres Oct. 26.

“Mathilde,” which depicts Tsar Nicholas II’s affair with ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska, has galvanized opposition among Christian Orthodox activists led by State Duma Deputy Natalya Poklonskaya. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized Tsar Nicholas II in 2000.

The “Cinema Park” and “Formula Kino's” decision follows a string of arson attacks last month related to the upcoming release of “Mathilde.”

Read more

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

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.