Russian Defense Minister calls for ban on comedy by President Zelensky and producer Alexander Rodnyansky

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu demanded the film and television work of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as that of Ukrainian-born producer Alexander Rodnyansky (Leviathan), to be “removed from the cultural agenda of the Russian Federation”.

Russian investigative news site The insider reported that Shoigu had sent a letter to Russian Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova asking that the work of the two men be banned in Russia. The report on The insider’The outlet’s website included what the outlet says is a copy of the letter sent to them by a “source close to the Ministry of Culture”.

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A photo of the letter is below. The Hollywood Reporter received this copy from a Russian film source, but cannot confirm its authenticity.

Letter Sergey Shiougu - Credit: Courtesy Photo

Letter Sergey Shiougu – Credit: Courtesy Photo

Courtesy picture

According to a translation, provided by the Russian film source, the letter says, among other things, that “as part of a special operation, the Ministry of Defense is taking steps to shape positive public opinion among Russian citizens in support of the country’s leadership.” . and the actions of the Russian armed forces. At the same time, in the cultural sector of the Russian media space, films and television programs with the participation of VA Zelensky continue to be broadcast, as well as the creative projects of a leading Ukrainian media official, AE Rodnyansky . The popularization of such people in the current conditions does not contribute to the implementation of the decisions made by the leadership of the country and the Russian Ministry of Defense. In view of the above, I ask you to work on a question concerning the exclusion of VA Zelensky and AE Rodnyansky from the cultural agenda of the Russian Federation.

Talk to The Hollywood Reporter via text, Rodnyansky said he was aware of the letter. He said it was “interesting that a Russian minister in charge of leading the war in Ukraine took the time to isolate myself and Volodymyr Zelensky and write a real letter to the Minister of Culture. Formally, this will have no effect on my projects. There’s no way I’m taking money [the] Russian state after February 24 [the date of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine].

Rodnyansky is Russia’s most acclaimed and successful film producer, with credits that include Oscar nominee Andrey Zvyagintsev Leviathan (2014) and without love (2017), and Kantemir Balagov’s Bean (2019).

Rodnyansky said Russia’s culture minister has already “cancelled” all of his future projects, including “upcoming films by Andrey Zvyagintsev, Kantemir Bagalov, Kira Kovalenko” and several television projects. “It’s quite an experience,” Rodnyansky noted wryly.

Rodnyansky is one of the founders of Ukrainian TV channel 1+1, which often worked with Zelensky’s production company, Kvartal 95 Studio. Before being elected President of Ukraine, Zelensky was a popular actor and comedian. In a case of life imitating art, in his hit TV series servant of the people he played an ordinary guy who is elected president of Ukraine.

In the United States, Netflix recently resumed broadcasting of servant of the peoplewhich originally aired on Netflix from 2017 to 2021, in response to what the company said was public demand.

Before entering politics, Zelensky, who is fluent in Russian, was also a very popular comedian in Russia. A boycott by the Ministry of Culture would mean that all of Zelensky’s work would be banned in Russia, as would any project involving Rodnyansky.

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