Moscow police stopped the showing of an acclaimed Western film about the Holodomor, Mr. Jones, by a Russian human rights group on Oct. 14.
Memorial, a human rights center, was shut down, while 20 employees and a Polish citizen, who reportedly had delivered the film, remained locked inside for hours allegedly to prevent the film’s screening.
The film depicts the artificial Stalin-made famine which ravished Soviet Ukraine in 1932-33 and killed millions, and the attempts by British journalist Gareth Jones to disclose this crime.
Shortly after the viewing began, masked men burst into the hall, ordering everyone to lay down. They started chanting “shame” and “fascists.” Three men were detained before police arrived, but there is no information about the perpetrators and their motives.
Soon, Russian media reported that the police closed off the building to inspect the premises but later announced that they would be seizing equipment.
Lawyer Natalia Morozova, working for Memorial, was barred from entering the building and was informed by the police that they are awaiting police reinforcements. Upon their arrival, the police began seizing equipment, which Morozova says was the security alarm system, which the police claimed was a video recorder.
Irina Kutilova, another lawyer representing Memorial, elaborated that the building had to be sealed off if the alarm system was removed.
The unnamed Polish citizen had brought the movie, Mr. Jones, by director Agnieszka Holland to be viewed at the center. The 2019 film follows Welsh journalist Jones as he investigates the Holodomor and its nature.
While not denying the existence of the famine, Russian state media have denied the severity and causes of the Holodomor. The film wasn’t screened in Russia prior.
Memorial is a non-profit organization that focuses on researching and highlighting political repression in the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia. The center has been categorized as a “foreign agent” by the Russian government since 2013.
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