In Brief

Netflix is a CIA conspiracy, claims Kremlin

Culture minister Vladimir Medinsky accuses US of using online streaming service to 'creep into our heads'

Netflix is part of a CIA plot to brainwash the planet, according to the Kremlin.

Vladimir Medinsky, Russia's minister of culture and a loyal supporter of President Vladimir Putin, claims the online streaming service is on the US government payroll.

Speaking to a Russian news service, he said the White House had realised "how to enter every home, creep into every television, and through that television, into the head of every person on earth, with the help of Netflix".                      

"It turns out that our ideological friends [the US government] understand perfectly well which is the greatest of the arts," he said, alluding Lenin's famous comment about the propaganda of cinema.

"And you thought, what? That all these gigantic start-ups appear by themselves? That some boy student thought something up and billions of dollars flutter from above?"

Medinsky made his claim while setting out an argument for increasing the funding of Russian cinema to counter the dominance of Hollywood productions.

The minister is a colourful figure and known for his nationalistic outbursts against western culture, says The Times.

Nevertheless, Medinsky has also criticised Russian films. Andrei Zvyagintsev's Oscar-nominated film Leviathan, about corruption and brutality in a coastal town, was dismissed as opportunistic and its director more interested in "glory, red carpets and statuettes" than the fate of his characters.

Taxpayers should not pay for films that openly spit on the government, he added.

Netflix launched in Russia earlier this year. The state media watchdog has requested a meeting with the firm, as officials warn that it could be blocked if it fails to pay taxes or produce 30 per cent of its content locally.

The CIA did fund cultural projects during the Cold War, including art exhibitions, musicians and Hollywood films. Netflix has declined to comment.

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