Ukraine's President Bans Russian Movies Made After Crimea Annexation

No Russian movie produced after January 1, 2014 will receive a distribution license required for any film to hit Ukrainian screens.

Nataliya Vasilyeva
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko delivers a speech during press conference with the Danish Prime Minister after a meeting, Kiev, Ukraine, April 19, 2016.
Nataliya Vasilyeva

AP - Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko signed a bill on Wednesday banning all movies filmed in Russia after 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.

The bill also bans all movies produced by Russian companies and Russian citizens after 1991 if they "glorify the work of government bodies" of Russia.

Russian films and television series have long dominated the Ukrainian market, where an overwhelming majority of the population is bilingual. Ukrainian and Russia television channels have also been engaged in a decades-long partnership to co-produce movies and TV series.

The ban means that no Russian movie produced after January 1, 2014, will be able to receive a national distribution license required for any film to hit the screens in Ukraine.

Before the ban was imposed, Ukraine had barred dozens of Russian movies and TV series by refusing to give them a license. The Ukrainian Cinema Agency's 2015 black list had over 160 titles including a popular series about a physical education teacher and an animated series for children about trains.

Because of the shared Soviet past, millions of Ukrainians have the same adoration of Soviet-era comedies and dramas as Russians or Belarusians. Concerns swirled before Wednesday's ban that Kiev might move to blacklist some much-loved Soviet movies which featured, for example, intelligence agents and police detectives.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia soured in 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and threw its support behind separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. The fighting between the rebels and government troops there left more than 9,100 dead. Despite the European mediation, a cease-fire in the east barely holds and a political settlement looks like a distant prospect.