Posted on Apr 12
Ukraine has postponed the release of a Russian film about a World War II football match in occupied Kiev between a Soviet team and Nazi troops, just ahead of its hosting of the Euro football championships.
The film's Moscow-based producer Dmitry Kulikov wrote on Facebook that the Ukrainian culture ministry had missed the deadline to give the film -- simply called "The Match" -- a release certificate.
"Rumour has it that the culture ministry wants to refuse 'The Match' any release at all in Ukraine. That would be very much in the style of the Ukrainian authorities," he wrote on Facebook.
The Ukrainian state film agency said in a statement that the film's release had been postponed for 25 working days "because of disagreements on the index (age rating) of the film."
"The Expert Committee of the State Cinema Agency has to review this film," it added.
The film was due to have gone on release in Ukraine on May 1, just over a month before it jointly hosts the European football championships with Poland.
The so-called "Death Match" in 1942 has become part of the mythology of Ukraine's trauma during World War II when much of the territory of the modern nation was occupied by Nazi troops.
The August 9, 1942 match took place in Nazi-occupied Kiev between the finest players from the German military and a crack Soviet team drawn largely from the ranks of the capital's legendary side Dynamo Kiev.
The Ukrainian team thrashed the Nazi side to the fury of the Germans and most were subsequently arrested by the Gestapo. Four were shot dead in a concentration camp although others managed to surive the war.
Kulikov suggested that the reason for the film's problems could be accusations that nationalist Ukrainian-speakers in the film are portrayed as Nazi sympathisers.
"They are very irritated by the police's yellow-and-blue armbands," he said, referring to the Ukrainian national colours. Ukrainian media have also suggested the reason could be "inaccurate portrayal of Ukrainians".
The match itself has long been the subject of historical controversy. According to Soviet legend, a Nazi commander told the Ukrainian players in the dressing room before the game to lose or risk being sent to concentration camps and shot.
However a German investigation that was finally closed in 2005 found no direct connection between the team's victory and the later execution of some of its members.