Director Armando Iannucci insisted on not having the characters speak with Russian accents, for two reasons: he thought it would take audiences out of the film, and he did not want the actors to worry about their accent when improvising. In an interview on BBC Radio 5 for the film's U.K. release, Iannucci stated that Russian journalists who had seen it praised the decision.
The movie was banned in Russia on January 23, 2018, two days before it was due to be released. The Cultural Ministry stated, "The distribution certificate for the film The Death of Stalin has been withdrawn." One member of the Culture Ministry's advisory board was quoted as saying, "The film desecrates our historical symbols -- the Soviet hymn, orders and medals, and Marshal Zhukov is portrayed as an idiot," and added that the film's release in advance of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad (February 2nd), would be "an affront to Russia's World War II veterans."
In one scene, Beria locks a young woman in a cell and then gives her a bunch of flowers upon release. Beria was a notorious sexual predator, sometimes driven around Moscow in search of victims. After Beria had finished with his victims, they were routinely offered a bunch of flowers. To accept was to imply that whatever had happened was consensual. To refuse meant arrest and disappearance.
The film alludes to the 1950 plane crash in Sverdlovsk that killed most of the Soviet ice hockey team, which happened three years before Stalin's death. It is true that Vasili Stalin, the team's patron, feared his father's reaction and tried to recruit a new team at extremely short notice.