Saturday, February 27, 2021

Moscow TV Removes Most Powerful Lines of Eisenstein’s ‘Aleksandr Nevsky’ Lest Russians Get Ideas

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 25 – For most Russians, the most powerful lines of Sergey Eisenstein’s 1938 classic film Aleksandr Nevsky are when the chorus sings “Arise, Russian People/For a Glorious Battle/For a Battle to the Death./Arise, Free People/for Your Honable Land!”

            But this year, the 800th anniversary of the birth of Nevsky and at a time when many were pressing for his statue rather than Felix Dzerzhinsky to be erected in Moscow’s Lubyanka Square, the Russian state TV channel Kultura edited out precisely those lines when it showed the film.

            Stoletiye commentator Vladimr Malyshev said this action was “a sacrilege,” and it is likely that other Russians had even stronger negative reactions to this act of censorship, especially as it suggests that some in the Kremlin now fear a rising by the Russian people against them and don’t want that encouraged (

            Russian nationalist publicist Yegor Kholmogorov said that many are circulating petitions demanding that the government reverse its decision because the film is “one of the crowning heights of our inheritance in cinematography.” Tsargrad founder Konstantin Malofeyev says that such editing undermines the Russian basis of the state.

            Stalin understood that and approved the film with Prokofyev’s powerful lines in them, Malyshev continues. But in recent years, some Russians have not. This is the second time Kultura has edited out these lines, the commentator says. The first came in November 2006, a reflection of the ideas of the powerful liberal lobby within the television industry.  

            “It is perfectly obvious,” Sergey Mikheyev, another Russian commentator says, “that if the Russian people does not feel itself to be the state-forming nation of the country, then Russia will come to an end.” That’s why the Constitution was amended to include a nod to this reality by speaking about the Russian language as the language of the state-forming people.

            Obviously, not everyone has gotten the message; and some have even used Putin’s attack on the idea of “Russia for the Russians” to engage in such anti-Moscow and Russophobic actions, Malyshev concludes. He doesn’t say but clearly implies that some in positions of power fear the Russian people more than represent their interests.

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