4 detained in probe linked to film on Russian czar's affair

4 detained in probe linked to film on Russian czar's affair”

Russian police have detained four people suspected of an arson attack linked to a movie about the last Russian czar's affair with a ballerina, officials said Thursday.

It is due to be released later this year despite protests from religious conservatives who are offended by what they believe is its disrespectful depiction of a man the Russian Orthodox Church regards as a saint.

A controversy over Matilda, prominent director Aleksei Uchitel's forthcoming movie based on an early romantic liaison of Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, has led to violence and cast a spotlight on radical Russian Orthodox activists.

A group calling itself "Christian State, Holy Russia" sent almost a thousand letters with threats to movie theater owners across Russia, urging them to drop the screening of Matilda.

"As part of the investigation into the criminal case on setting ablaze cars in Starokonyushenny Lane three detained persons have been charged in connection with the crime", the spokeswoman said.

A vehicle was set on fire last week near the Moscow office of a lawyer representing Uchitel, whose own office in Saint Petersburg has also been targeted.

Culture minister Vladimir Medinsky had urged authorities to protect the film industry and thanked the police for intervening and "rapidly reacting to violations" on Thursday.

Kalinin's wife Marina confirmed to Reuters that her husband had been detained and that his brother had also been held.

Police said flyers found at the scene of the attack with the slogan "Burn for Matilda" were seized from Kalinin's flat, according to the Fontanka newspaper.

The attack was one of a series of violent protests over the film, including an arson attack on Uchitel's studio and a man driving a vehicle into the facade of a cinema.

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