Chernobyl has really generated some passionate response from fans and critics across the world, quickly becoming one of the most beloved miniseries of all time. The phenomenon is so widespread that reports keep coming about how the series is breaking records (dethroning Game of Thrones in percentage of digital viewership, for example) and increasing tourism in Ukraine. But, as much as the world seems to be in love with HBO’s historical drama, there doesn’t seem to be much love for the show in some Russian circles.
Following the Kremlin’s announcement that they would produce their own series about the 1986 nuclear catastrophe, which will reportedly feature a CIA agent sabotaging the plant (because, why not?), a Russian political party is now looking to ban HBO’s show in the country.
The Communists Of Russia
We must remember that communism is still alive in Russia, with more than one political party rallying under its controversial banner. One such party, a Marxist-Leninist political group by the name of the Communists of Russia (not to be confused with the much larger Communist Party Of The Russian Federation) is calling to ban HBO’s miniseries and to file a libel lawsuit against its creator, Craig Mazin, the director, and the producers.
The party wants to use Article 129 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which directly deals with libel and defamation cases. As such, the article explicitly forbids “Slander, that is the spreading of deliberately falsified information that denigrates the honor and dignity of another person or undermines his reputation.” The Russian Criminal Code goes on to specify the consequences of defamation:
“Slander contained in a public speech or in a publicly performed work, and mass-media libel, shall be punishable by a fine in the amount of 100 to 200 minimum wages, or in the amount of the wage or salary, or any other income of the convicted person for a period of one to two months, or by compulsory works for a term of 120 to 180 hours, or by corrective labour for a term of one year to two years, or by arrest for a term of three to six months.”
Demanding a ban
As it looks to tackle HBO through Russian law, the party also asked The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, aka Roskomnadzor, to block all local access to the “disgusting” miniseries, according to Deadline.
Party member Sergey Malinkovich stated:
“In the ‘Chernobyl’ series, genuine tragedy became the object of ideological manipulation on the part of HBO.” And added that “The TV series about the dramatic events of April 1986 is an ideological tool designed to defame and demonize the image of the Soviet government and Soviet people.”
Malinkovich did admit, however, that the series portrayed the correct chronology and key events of the actual incident (with some minor inaccuracies, of course).
Though Roskomnadzor has not yet received a formal inquiry from Communists of Russia, the federal body declared that they would properly examine the request as soon as it’s filed and would handle it according to Russian law.
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