The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Blasphemy controversy in Russia about film on Saint-Czar Nicholas II's affair with a ballerina


An undated photo of Czar Nicholas II of Russia. (Associated Press)

I hadn't realized it, but Czar Nicholas II was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church (in the West in 1981, back in Russia in 2000). Now a forthcoming Russian movie,"Matilda," about his affair (when he was still the heir to the throne) with ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya has led to calls for its suppression, largely on the grounds that it's blasphemous (though others fault it for being unpatriotic, some argue that it is not factually accurate, and some claim that the ballerina was too ugly and rat-faced to appeal to Nicholas). The leaders of the Russian regions Chechnya and Dagestan had called for bans on the film in those regions (see here as to Chechnya and here as to Dagestan), though Chechnya's request was just rescinded yesterday.

The Russian parliament member Natalya Poklonskaya (former chief prosecutor of Russian Crimea) has also spoken out against the film and has asked the prosecutor's office to investigate it. Poklonskaya has also suggested in the past that a bronze bust of the Czar in Crimea was seeping fragrant myrrh, though even the Church has denied that.

Rumors that this is all a publicity campaign for the movie secretly organized by its producers are—well, I just made them up. But it would make sense.

Thanks to my father, Vladimir, for the pointer.