'Soulless 2' Producers Accuse Ukrainian Officials of Leaking Film Online

Fyodor Bondarchuk Headshot - P 2012

Fyodor Bondarchuk Headshot - P 2012

They insist the illegal copy could have only been made from a disk submitted to Ukraine's culture ministry.

The screenwriter and producer of the highly anticipated Russian movie Dukhless 2 (Soulless 2), which opens this weekend, have accused Ukrainian officials of selling a copy of the film, submitted with an application for an exhibition license, to online pirates.

"Last week, we submitted a rough copy of the film Soulless 2 to Ukraine's culture ministry, applying for an exhibition license," writer Sergei Minayev said on his Facebook account. "Exactly 24 hours later, that version, with some jokes that Ukrainian officials believed to be politically incorrect, cut out, and without Ukrainian subtitles, was sold to pirates and appeared on the torrents."

According to Minayev, at least one of 15 officials on the Ukrainian culture ministry's expert council that issues exhibition licenses to movies was to blame for the leak.

"I was shocked to see the movie leaked to the Internet," Fyodor Bondarchuk, one the film's producers, said on Russian TV network Rossiya 24, adding that it was also clear to him that the pirated copy could have only come from the Ukrainian agency.

Meanwhile, it is not known how the film could have even been considered for an exhibition license in Ukraine, as releases of all Russian films made after January 2014 were banned in that country last month.

Soulless 2 is a sequel to Russia's top-grossing local movie of 2012. The first movie was based on Minayev's 2006 best-selling novel, and the sequel was made from an original script.