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The Stalin Family

    Stalin 

Joseph Stalin

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_stalin.jpg
"You wanna know where fucking Polnikov is? You wanna go there?"
Portrayed By: Adrian Mcloughlin

The eponymous old tyrant, total ruler of the Soviet Union until his death in 1953. Although he's only alive for the first fifth of the movie, his shadow obviously looms large over the rest of it.


  • 0% Approval Rating: Defied. While hated by many, the mass crowd of mourners is actually there on their terms and the film makes sure to point this out. Even former victims of his purges like the Church show up. As per history, Stalin's popularity (at least in Russia) will not tank until Khrushchev seizes power and gives out his secret speech.
  • Bad Boss: Strong claim for the baddest boss of the 20th Century. By 1953, he's had everyone killed except for the band of twitchy sycophants and mass murderers we're introduced to. Also The Dreaded because he can and will have you killed the second he thinks you are no longer useful to him, or to scare the living crap out of his other yes-men, or even because he's just plain bored of looking at you. And it doesn't help that he's The Paranoiac on top of all this.
  • The Caligula: It goes without saying since he's Stalin. Countless people under his regime die because of his mercurial, petty, paranoid, and psychotic nature.
  • Crushing the Populace: His regime rests on the idea that he can have anyone killed at any time.
  • Die Laughing: More or less what he does, whilst reading the note Maria Yudina sends him. He actually lingers throughout the night and into some of the next day before kicking the bucket, but the laugh was what got him started.
  • The Dreaded: Absolutely everyone is terrified of him, and for good reason, since he'll have people killed at the drop of a hat.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: His son and daughter mourn him after his death.
  • Faux Affably Evil: In his short screentime, Stalin is established as a man who likes to laugh and have a fun time. Underneath that joking funny demeanor is a veiled threat to anyone who even slightly upsets him, and he's happy to direct that mirth at all manner of misfortunes. Notably, he has a lively dinner at the beginning with Molotov even after he signed the man's death warrant earlier in the evening.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with fear and terror. Because they are terrified of his reaction, his guards don't bother to check his room when Stalin falls unconscious.
  • The Hyena: When he is in funny mode.
  • Jerkass: Mostly comes across as incredibly petty and vain.
    • Exemplified when reading Maria Yudina's note: What is his reaction to reading a letter that accuses him of terrible crimes against the Russian people and proclaims he is dammned to Hell? To start laughing his ass off.
  • Karmic Death: He might have survived his stroke if only his own guards and Politburo weren't terrified of disturbing him in his bedroom.
  • Limited Wardrobe: He always wears the same working class gray uniform.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Is given a thick Cockney accent in the movie (which tends to heavily imply this), and is rather vulgar and dickish, to boot.
  • Mood-Swinger: One second he is laughing, and the next he is deadly serious (emphasis on the deadly). It makes him all the more terrifying.
  • The Napoleon: Yudina is surprised by how short he actually is. Truth in Television, Stalin was 5'3" and would wear platform shoes and/or stand on a stool hidden behind the podium when appearing in public.
  • Not Quite Dead: Seems to make a miraculous recovery from his brain haemorrhage. The rest of the Politburo have mixed feelings about this, particularly Beria, who's absolutely terrified his boss will recover to see what he's been doing in the meantime. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for him, Stalin's recovery doesn't last long.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: In case the title didn't give it away, Stalin's death kicks off the ensuing power vacuum that encompasses the film's plot.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: A dangerous version.
  • Potty Failure: Empties his bladder as he lies on the floor after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.
  • Undignified Death: He is forced to lie for hours on his office floor, soaked in his own piss, while his sycophants care more about saving their own skin.
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    Svetlana 

Svetlana Stalina

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_svetlana_9.jpg
"I may as well shoot myself, like Mother."
Portrayed By: Andrea Riseborough

Stalin's much-beloved daughter.


  • 100% Adoration Rating: She is popular with everyone, which is why Khrushchev and Beria want to recruit her for their own cause.
  • Alliterative Name: Although it is never said aloud in the movie.
  • Big Sister Instinct: She's very protective of her screw-up of a brother, Vasily, even though she's actually younger than him.
  • Closer to Earth: The Heart of the Stalin family, and the only (living) female.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Despite her good hearted nature, she's quick to throw this.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: She doesn't seem to realize how insincere the members of the Soviet Presidium are in offering their condolences, and seems to think her brother isn't as bad as he makes himself out to be. She also doesn't catch on to how horrible and cut-throat the prospective leaders are, especially Beria, who she gets along with the most it seems. Her last line of the film confirms this as she says, "I never thought it would be you," to Khrushchev as he's exiling her to Austria, and becomes the de-facto leader of the Soviet Union.
  • The Lost Lenore: Gender-flipped. Svetlana still has strong feelings for her first lover Alexey Kapler, and asks Beria to release him. Beria says that he is dead. note 
  • Morality Pet: Acts as one for Khrushchev, who is portrayed as genuinely caring for her well-being, while Beria's concern is about how to use her as a pawn in his climb to power. However, it's not enough to stop Khrushchev from coldly exiling her once Beria's been executed, separating her from Vasily. While she's arguably safer the farther she is from Moscow, she's clearly still hurt by Khruschev's actions and attitude in that moment.
    • Was also one to Stalin in real life.
  • Serious Business: Her refusal to sit down out of respect for her late father becomes a Running Gag.
  • Upper-Class Twit: See Horrible Judge of Character above and Wrong Genre Savvy below. She also spends the entirety of the film talking to everyone as if she's the Princess Royal, whilst having no clue how dangerous the Russian capital has become for her since her father's death, and that while she's the closest thing the Soviet Union has to this trope, the post-Tsarist nature of Russia allows for elites to be axed off at any moment's notice.
  • White Sheep: Of the Stalin family.
  • Women Are Wiser: Despite her defects, she comes across as wiser and more stable than Stalin and (especially) Vasily.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: At times gives the impression she's in the Soviet version of Downton Abbey or The Crown, when she's actually in House of Cards. She seems to realize her mistake once Khrushchev flat out tells her to leave to Vienna, reminding her that she means nothing once the Politiburo has used her for their own gains and that she's an annoyance at best.

    Vasily 

Vasily Stalin

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_vasily_4.jpg
"I know the drill. Smile, shake hands, and try not to call them cunts."
Portrayed By: Rupert Friend

"Play better, you clattering fannies!"

Stalin's drunken screwup of a son and senior officer in the Soviet Air Force.


  • 0% Approval Rating: In contrast to his younger sister, he's one of the least popular people in the Soviet Union, due to being an irresponsible, childish, drunken, incompetent asshole.
  • The Alcoholic: Much of Vasily's strange impulsive behaviour can be explained by being highly intoxicated in almost every scene. Truth in Television, as he ultimately died at the age of 40 due to chronic alcoholism.
  • Blatant Lies: Every time he tries to deny the accident that killed the national hockey team. Somewhat humorously, he actually wasn't responsible for it in Real Life; his rather haphazard attempts to cover it up nearly landed him in hot water, though.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Threatens people constantly, but unlike his father, nobody cares to follow his orders.
  • Broken Ace: In Real Life, he was a skilled fighter pilot and a competent officer. As a child, he got along well with his father, who focused his abuses on Vasily's older brother Yakov. After Yakov died in a German POW camp, the old man became distraught and took it out on Vasily, who was relentlessly mocked and bullied by his father from then on, causing him to develop severe daddy issues. He also indirectly had caused a fatal air accident (a Tu-4 crashing in a parade) by letting them fly in bad weather; this incident ruined his military career and turned him to drink. He was a Lieutenant General, after all (although Nepotism had a lot to do with his rank).
  • Butt-Monkey: As a consistent fuck-up, nobody but his sister likes him (and even she doesn't take him seriously). Pretty much everything he does results in a failure that is as humiliating as it is immediate.
  • Captain Crash: Is somehow responsible for the death of the entire Soviet ice hockey team. In Real Life, he had no responsibility for the crash; it was his incompetent attempts to cover it up (it happened two weeks after his father's 70th birthday).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He's not really sane. See below.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: He has a strange, and ironically fascistic, belief in 'Zionists' and 'New York queers' who are somehow in league with the Central Committee to open his dead father's head and fill it with American lies. Vasily is a strange, paranoid, unstable person (not unlike his father).
  • Epic Fail: While being held down, Vasily spits on his opponents and the spit flies straight into his hairline.
  • Foreshadowing: Khrushchev tells Svetlana to leave the country for her own protection, but he won't allow Vasily to go with her because of his constantly spouting conspiracy theories and generally being an embarrassment to the Soviet Union; Svetlana fruitlessly argues that he is sick and will suffer without her to watch him. This foreshadows Vasily's early death from alcoholism, 9 years after the events of the movie.
  • Never Live It Down: In the film, the air accident of the Soviet ice hockey team; in Real Life, the air parade accident.
  • Overlord Jr.: The son of a cruel and ruthless dictator. Ironically, he still loves his father and does what he can to protect his corpse from "American Lies" despite being a chew toy during his later years.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Svetlana, despite being the younger sibling, calls him a child after a Gilligan Cut. A child that tries again and again to grab a gun and fire it into a crowded room.
  • Saying Too Much: When a message arrives to summon him to his father's dacha, he believes it's about the airplane crash and says aloud that it should never have taken off, and that he could not foresee an ice storm. The messenge asks if something happened to the hockey team, and Vasily quickly replies "nothing happened".
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In case you're wondering, the airplane crash that killed the Soviet hockey team didn't happen and neither does he have anything to do with that incident.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Vastly overestimates his importance due to his powerful father.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Despite his inebriation, upon seeing Marshall Zhukov in the room, Vasily instantly knows he’s about to be on the wrong end of an asskicking. He can only stutter "Medic!" before Zhukov puts him on the floor.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Like his sister, he is the closest thing in Post-Tsarist Russia to what could be Soviet royalty, speaks with a posh accent, and generally has no clue about anything. He's a General in the Red Air Force at the age of 31, thanks to his parentage, but is as damaged as his father and generally sucks at life.
    Zhukov: You’re a fucking stain on that uniform! you’d best fucking behave!

The Central Committee

    General Tropes 

Central Committee

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_committee.jpg
"Votes in favor! Carried... u... nanimously."

The highest-ranking leaders of the Soviet Union, or what's left of them after Stalin's purges, anyway. The protagonists of the film (and antagonist in the case of Beria), whose attempts to keep stability are interrupted by their plots to seize control.


  • Anyone Can Die: Or get demoted or imprisoned for the luckier ones. At the beginning of the film, Molotov is already on "the list" for no reason but Stalin's mood; at the end, Beria finds himself the victim of this, and the epilogue makes clear that the scheming and backstabbing continued through Khrushchev's rule until he was himself forcefully retired and replaced with Brezhnev. In real life, Mikoyan was the only one to avoid this and retire on his terms.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Make no mistake that Beria is utterly the evilest of the bunch, but he's right that the other six of them also have their fair share of atrocities they supported or committed.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Consisting of amoral yes-men only interested in self-preservation and gaining power, they are ready to backstab just about anyone, including their own family members.
  • False Friend: They pretend to be jovial friends around Stalin, but it is a farce.
  • Five-Man Band: Well, seven.
    • The Leader: Malenkov. Or an attempt to be one, anyway.
    • The Lancer: Khrushchev. The Only Sane Man trying to snap power away from Beria.
    • The Heart: Molotov. He acts rather jovial and thinks the USSR is a true socialist paradise free of cynicism.
    • The Smart Guy: Kaganovich. Acts as an advisor and Khrushchev's Number Two in setting a plan to take out Beria.
    • The Social Expert: Mikoyan. A former loyalist to Stalin using his wit to avoid anyone's wrath.
    • The Generic Guy: Bulganin. The least developed of the seven.
    • Token Evil Teammate: Beria. The one the six others fear more and plot to take out before he does the same.
    • Sixth Ranger/The Big Guy: General Zhukov, who is not a member of the Committee, but is enlisted by the others to (literally) take out Beria.
  • King on His Deathbed: The plot is kickstarted by Stalin falling terminally ill.
  • Multinational Team: Unlike other Western works, the film does make acknowledgements of the multinational nature of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev has a Ukrainian background, Beria is Georgian, and Mikoyan is Armenian.
  • Professional Buttkisser: Every member goes to ridiculous lengths to please Stalin while he is alive, with the notable exception of Beria, as he has... well, other talents.
  • The Purge: What they are trying to avoid, while simultaneously trying to do one against each other. Beria, being the head of the NKVD, has committed more of these than the other six.
  • The Remnant: Khrushchev brings up Tukhachevsky and others to Malenkov to point out that they're all that's left of the old Soviet guard, as Stalin and Beria have purged the rest.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: They pretend to be friends and agree on everything, but they barely hide their contempt and hate for each other.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: In real life, all of them had proverbial blood on their hands; the brutal campaigns and policies carried out by them and Stalin in the 1930s (collectvization and the Great Purge) had resulted in the deaths of approximately 10 million people collectively throughout the Soviet Union. Not helping is that behind the scenes, they constantly schemed behind each other’s backs for the sake of survival.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: An extreme example. Even while they're simply reacting to Stalin's death and the funeral, they're already planning to seize power. Although all of them end up supporting Khrushchev against Beria, Khrushchev is quick to turn on Malenkov at the end to become the leader of the USSR.
  • Yes-Man: This time, even Beria falls into the category, as Stalin wouldn't have anything else around.

    Khrushchev 

Nikita Khrushchev

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_khruschev_5.jpg
"I'm the peacemaker and I'll fuck up anyone who gets in my way."
Portrayed By: Steve Buscemi

Member of the central committee, and one of Stalin's closest advisors.


  • Affably Evil: He's a friendly, funny guy, but not a good man. While he's better than most of his colleagues, he's still willing to sacrifice plenty of innocent people in his scheming.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's initially so bad at scheming that no one expects him to win the power struggle. And then he cold-bloodedly orders the trains to be restarted, knowing that thousands of mourners will come to Moscow and be gunned down by the NKVD, which will damage Beria's public image.
  • Covers Always Lie: The "peacemaker" line, despite being featured as his Establishing Character Moment in the trailer, is absent from the final cut.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Khrushchev is displayed as having a very dry sense of humor.
  • Establishing Character Moment: On the morning after Stalin's seizure, Khrushchev is having his wife repeat back to him all of the jokes that were bandied around the night before, so he can remember which the Great Leader liked and which fell flat. He's a nervy but calculating individual with a will to survive.
  • The Everyman: He dresses in a typical business suit, loves his wife, and wants to protect Svetlana and to soften the Soviet dictatorship, both for seemingly altruistic reasons.
  • The Funny Guy: While Stalin is alive, he tries to ingratiate himself with him by acting like a standup comedian. This façade drops a lot after his death; afterward, his humor is much more measured and sharp.
  • Good Is Not Nice: His exiling of Svetlana. By getting her as far away from Moscow as possible, he's ensuring her safety. However, his attitude in the moment is notably cold and inflexible.note 
  • Good Is Not Soft: He's not really even that good at all, but his attempts to bring down Beria and reform the USSR require some major questionable actions on his part to avoid a worse dictatorship.
  • Happily Married: Implied. From what little is seen of him interacting with his wife, they seem to get along quite well.
  • Historical In-Joke: Shouts "I will bury you" to Beria's body, a nod to Khrushchev's infamous statement to Western diplomats in 1956.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: While he's certainly not depicted as a good guy, except in the sense of being the least bad of the Politburo, he does get depicted as more consistently likeable than he actually was. The real Khrushchev was a jovial man, but also a notorious Mood-Swinger who had angry, threatening outbursts. They were so infamous that Brezhnev used them to help justify his seizure of power, claiming they were a sign that Khrushchev couldn't be trusted to continue leading the country. In this movie, he only loses his temper once, and that's when he rants at Beria for his many horrible crimes during the latter's "trial" and execution.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The responsibility for the casualties at Stalin's funeral is placed squarely on Khrushchev, who is depicted as ordering the barriers removed with the knowledge that people will die and it will make Beria look bad. In addition, the number of dead is multiplied by more than ten (at least according to Khrushchev's account of the event, anyway). At least the film shows Khrushchev being briefly appalled by that number of casualties.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Khrushchev isn't, and wasn't, a good person. Beria reminds him just how many people he's had killed at Stalin's behest as well. However, the rest of the Politburo are so horrible, moronic, or both that the audience winds up rooting for Khrushchev almost by default.
  • The Needs of the Many: Khrushchev willingly sacrifices several innocent mourners (eventually hundreds) in order to get rid of Beria.
  • Never My Fault: Zig-Zagged.
    • He's quick to place the blame of the massacre of Stalin's mourners onto Beria and willing to use the tragedy to outmaneuver him, though a number of scenes make it clear that he's ashamed of it and might even regret having acted so rashly.
    • When the coup is underway and he needs to sway Malenkov, Khrushchev states that the planned coup was Zhukov's idea rather than his own.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Hardly anybody takes him seriously at first, but he turns out to be quite the cunning and ruthless schemer. The fact that he ends up on top in the power struggle shows that taking him lightly is not a good idea.
  • Only Sane Man: Barely. While he's as corrupt and cowardly as the other Politburo members, he's one of the few who knows what he's doing and understands the dangers of letting a monster like Beria take over the Soviet Union.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: He is very outspoken about his atheism and his contempt for Christianity and the Russian Orthodox Church.
  • Pyjama-Clad Hero: Turns up to Stalin's dacha wearing his suit over his pajamas, he's that anxious to be on the spot.
  • Rage Breaking Point: What the indignity of being assigned to oversee Stalin's funeral seems to be for him. 1500 people die because of it.
  • Running Gag: People making note or joking about his bald head.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: He is played by Steve Buscemi, so it comes with the territory.
    "Our General Secretary is lying in a puddle of his own indignity!"
  • Villain Protagonist: As has been stated, he is not a good person and has a lot of blood on his hands. He's also the most prominent character the film follows.
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    Beria 

Lavrentiy Beria

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_beria_7.jpg
"Shoot her before him, but make sure he sees it. Oh, and this one... um... kill him, take him to his church, dump him in the pulpit. And I'll leave the rest up to you."
Portrayed By: Simon Russell Beale

"It's time all of you realised who kept the daggers out of your backs. Show some fucking respect."

Head of the NKVD, the Soviet Union's spy network.


  • 0% Approval Rating: A bullying, murdering, raping, unholy monster of a man. When the surviving Politburo turns on him, nobody cares what happens to him.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: During his show trial, he winds up begging Khrushchev, Malenkov, and Zhukov for mercy. They have none.
  • Age Lift: Downplayed. Beria was born in 1899 and was actually one of the youngest members of the committee, yet looks like one of the oldest in the movie; however, Simon Russell Beale was 55 years old during filming, while Beria was 54 when he was executed.
  • Asshole Victim: Deconstructed. Although his execution is richly deserved, it ultimately rings hollow when you realise that everyone who played a part in condemning him have committed crimes just as bad in their past. During his "trial", it becomes very clear that the only reason they killed him was not out of any sense of justice, but because he was moving to become head of the Soviet Union and thus posed a threat to them.
  • Bad Boss: His employees aren't safe from his sadistic tendencies. He had a person executed for stuttering.
  • Bait-and-Switch: His conversation with Molotov's wife (see picture above) is framed in a way that makes viewers believe he is interrogating a male prisoner, then to one of his underage rape victims. Molotova is presumably neither, but knowing Beria, it isn't beyond doubt that he tortured or raped her in the past.
  • Batman Gambit: He constantly manipulates people by finding their weak points and steering them into doing his bidding by playing to their character flaws or personalities. This ultimately works against him with the film's bizarreness such as when he returns Molotov's wife to win his loyalty only for Molotov to cite that as a reason he's turned against Beria as he was undoing what Stalin had done. At the end his reliance on blackmail as a crutch ends up doing him in as such a direct threat of force intended to keep them in line has them all turn against him.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Make no mistake, none of the principal actors in this film are good people, but Beria is particularly repulsive. He is portrayed as a scheming, sadistic rapist who constantly has people executed in the most horrible way he can think of, just For the Evulz. Nothing else unites the rest of the Politburo except their fear of him, which is what eventually seals it for him.
  • Blackmail Backfire: The main reason why the rest of the Presidium wanted to get rid of him for good. He had everyone on the purge lists, he was the head of NKVD, he had too much power, he was a completely corrupt personality, and he was simply too dangerous to be left alive.
  • Big Bad: His and Khrushchev's attempts to outplay one another for power makes up the film.
  • Boom, Headshot!: He's executed this way while begging for mercy.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Though the Committee are all powerful and dangerous people, Beria manages to wrestle them into line with a combination of blackmail and political machinations. Pressing too hard on them with threat of force, however, ends up with a Blackmail Backfire and leaves him with too many enemies who want him dead. Similarily him getting under Zhukov's skin and muscling in on the army's jurisdiction turns them against him as well.
  • The Comically Serious: Beria is one of the most serious-minded characters in the film and the greatest threat, and at times the film uses that for comedy. When Khrushchev first discovers Stalin and is mourning, Malenkov pulls him into a hug and then makes an awkward Beria join them in the group hug.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: One of the few examples that is both exploited by the character and Played for Drama. If he wants someone gone, he'll craft a story that makes them look like conspirators against the Soviet Union.
  • Cruel Mercy: One of the only ordinary people who gets out of Stalin's dacha alive is an underage maid, who Beria "saves" in order to rape.
  • Death by Irony: His blackmailing and Jerkass attitude succeeds in turning the rest of the Central Committee and the Red Army to Khrushchev's side. His united enemies then subject him to Kangaroo Court, another thing he was known for in Stalin's purges, which results in his execution.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Despite being the notoriously brutal and sadistic head of the N.K.V.D., he kickstarts a round of liberalization (albeit he stole the idea from Khruschev) by halting executions and releasing prisoners like Polina Molotova...solely because it will make him look good and help secure his own power.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: He has one of his minions executed for stuttering.
  • The Dragon: What he was to Stalin.
  • Dragon Ascendant: He tried to become this following Stalin's death, using Malenkov as his puppet. It leads to a glorious Oh, Crap! moment when Beria sets the wheels in motion for his own power play, only to find out Stalin is Not Quite Dead. It's brief, as Stalin dies for real minutes later.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: While Malenkov is provisional leader following Stalin's death, Beria is the true power behind him.
  • The Dreaded: Being the head spymaster in Soviet Russia will make you this. Unfortunately for him, he ends up being more hated than feared, leading to The Purge circling right around to claim him.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: His Villainous Breakdown following the funeral massacre is this all over, as he demands the gratitude of the other members of the Central Committee for all his years of hard work.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • At one point, he has a minion disgraced and executed for stuttering.
    • He boasts to Malenkov that he likes to literally piss on low-ranking Soviet officers.
  • Evil Old Folks: The only member of the Committee with full white hair, and the most despicable.
  • Evil Wears Black: He’s the most despicable of Stalin’s lackeys and wears a black suit for the entire film.
  • Fat Bastard: He's morbidly obese and the most reprehensible character in the film.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Beria comes as polite and sympathetic to Svetlana and occasionally to the other Politburo members, but it is nothing more but a mask for a power-hungry hangman who tries to use her favor for his own gains.
  • Forced to Watch: He is fond of ordering wives to be raped and murdered next to their powerless husbands before having them killed, even if he isn't there to see it.
  • For the Evulz: He has a sadistic love for killing anyone at any moment in the cruelest ways possible and humiliate (or even execute) his minions for petty reasons.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Beria is the only prominent character in the movie who wears glasses most of the time (aside from Malenkov) and he is definitely the most villainous member of the cast.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: His entire attempt to seize power.
    • Replacing the Army in Moscow with the NKVD throws the Army into his enemies' side, and makes the NKVD (and himself as a result) look bad when it falls to them to stop the waves of Stalin mourners from entering the capital.
    • Stalling Molotov's execution, saving his wife and seemingly bringing her Back from the Dead, fails absolutely to ingratiate himself with him. Much to his surprise (and the audience), Molotov is such a hardcore Stalinist enthusiast that he had accepted his wife's disappearance wholeheartedly, and would have walked happily into his own execution if Stalin approved it. As a result, he feels not a single ounce of gratitude for Beria and sides with Khrushchev.
    • Railroading Khrushchev into directing Stalin's funeral, then "boycotting" it by sealing the city to mourners from outside Moscow, and inviting the bishops to assist. The first one made Beria and the NKVD look bad when Khrushchev told the Army to let the mourners come and they overhelmed the NKVD guarding the city, leading to Beria's Villainous Breakdown while Khrushchev came out unscathed. The second was only minded by Khrushchev.
    • His seizure of compromising papers from Stalin's office and waving them at the rest of the Politburo during his first Villainous Breakdown. Rather than making the others back him out of fear, it convinced those still in doubt to back Khrushchev against Beria, precisely out of fear that Beria would condemn them if given absolute power.
  • Hate Sink: He's almost certainly the most vile, depraved character ever to feature in an Armando Iannucci production. He is a mass-murdering sadist without a single redeeming or likeable quality to his name.
  • He Knows Too Much: Aside from general unpleasentness, Beria presents a major danger to Politburo by the fact that he is a head of Secret Police and has damaging information on all of them, which he can use at any moment to eliminate his opponents. When Malenkov refuses to give Beria a Kangaroo Court, Khrushchev points out that it's too late to leave Beria alive, since if they don't get rid of Beria soon, he will go for the rest of Politburo in revenge.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Iannucci admitted that he had to downplay Beria's sexual crimes to make him more believable to the audience. Let that sink in a moment.
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • Beria uses Molotov's wife to toy with his emotions, but it falls surprisingly flat.
    • Averted with Svetlana and her first love Aleksei Kapler, who is portrayed as being dead and thus beyond return even for Beria.
  • Kangaroo Court: His "trial" is reduced to a list of charges and a death sentence being read, then followed by his immediate execution. It all lasts a few minutes, it takes place in a barn, and he is surrounded entirely by people who want to kill him. Not that he didn't completely deserve it.
  • Karmic Death: He is subjected to a Kangaroo Court and executed the moment he stops being useful and starts being dangerous, just like many of his victims.
  • Kick the Dog: Beria always went the extra mile for cruelty. When handing out the lists to his subordinates, he gives a few pointers on how to really drive the deaths home; ordering the death of a couple and specifying to kill the wife in front of the husband first ("make sure he sees it"). In the end, Khrushchev reads out his crimes, noting the hundreds of rapes and what he did to some of their former colleagues.
    Kruschev: "And poor Sokolnikov. Who begged him to look after his elderly mother. That monster strangled her in front of him."
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: He'll never be feared and loved at the same time, so he clearly believes it's better to be feared — and he's got that part down to an art. Unfortunately for him, he's feared and hated by everyone instead — meaning that everyone won't hesitate to join forces to bring him down.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Spends most of the movie throwing people's words back in their faces, and unsubtly reminding them he could have them taken out and shot at any moment. But his crowning moment is bringing Molotov's wife Back from the Dead, whom he had long since denounced, purely to manipulate him.
  • Man on Fire: His body is set on fire after his death, probably because his killers are still angry with him.
  • Mean Boss: Beria will never miss an opportunity to piss on his subordinates (sometimes literally, according to him).
  • Moral Myopia: Despite being both the mastermind (and, in some cases, direct perpetrator) of the torture and murder of countless thousands of innocent people, as well as the entire Gulag system for much of Stalin's reign, and a serial rapist/killer of countless hundreds of women and girls, Beria is absolutely incensed at the mere implication that he is responsible for any wrongdoing. In the aftermath of the funeral massacre, he throws a furious tantrum and lists the (far less severe) crimes of the other Soviet leaders while tearfully demanding their respect and gratitude for not exposing their shady pasts. This is seen again in his show trial where he shrieks about how they are all gangsters and tyrants who have no right to judge him (in between begging them not to kill him).
  • Oh, Crap!: He goes from angrily insulting everyone to begging for his life once he realizes that the Politburo is also judging him for rape and pedophilia, something he is very guilty of.
  • The Omniscient: Played for Drama. Beria knows everything that everyone is guilty of, and will spout them to their faces to make them comply (e.g. telling Vasily "I know about the hockey team" and Yudina "I know about the note"). If he doesn't, he knows of any spurious connection to anyone hiding something, and will use that to railroad you (e.g. threatening Khrushchev to accuse him of Stalin's murder because Yudina gave piano lessons to his niece).
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He tries to institute reforms that the Soviet Union needs, which includes freeing prisoners and stopping the executions. However, it's made clear he's not doing this out of altruism, but because he wants to earn good publicity so he can gain power for himself.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: At his execution, the rest of the Politburo throw in his face just how many women and kids he's sexually abused over the years; it's clear that even to them, he was beyond the pale.
  • Serial Rapist: The biggest indicator that he's the most loathsome character in the cast is that he used his position to rape women and children. In real life, there was evidence that he also murdered some victims and buried them in his yard, which makes it likely that he was also a serial killer.
  • Smug Snake: A man of no morals and no integrity, he holds everyone in similar contempt. And it comes back to bite him in the ass, big time.
  • The Sociopath: Any time Beria is shown being kind or merciful, it's only to secure his own power.
  • Spy Master: As a head of NKVD, his position allows him to conduct espionage and state security that also included ones that would further his goals.
  • The Starscream: The only member of the Politburo who was not a Professional Buttkisser to Stalin. The moment Stalin becomes ill, he stars plotting how to succeed him and banks on his death rather than seeking medical attention. This is why Stalin's return to consciousness is such an Oh, Crap! moment to him, and the moment he shows the most vulnerability before his Villainous Breakdown at the Funeral.
  • Torture Technician: Beria is shown to personally beat one of the NKVD's prisoners.
  • Troll: One of the darkest examples ever seen in fiction. Khrushchev is lucky that he only uses a tomato to prank him.
  • Undignified Death: Punched and chained in a bathroom, subjected to a Kangaroo Court lasting a few hours (if at all), taken out and shot in the head whilst begging for his life, then dumped in a back lot and set on fire. Did we mention how much nobody liked this guy?
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • He has a minor one when it looks like Stalin will survive after he's started to implement his plans to secure power, but Stalin's subsequent death saves him.
    • He later has a full-blown explosion of rage when the rest of the Politburo all consider shifting blame to the NKVD, essentially meaning he's the scapegoat. He abandons all his more affable mannerisms and screams with indignant fury at the Politburo for their lack of gratitude and lambasts them for being so judgmental of him despite all of them having blood on their hands too.
    • His final moments during the show trial count as well, as he loses any semblance of composure and is reduced to screaming impotent threats and accusations intermixed with pathetic sobbing and desperate begging for his life.
  • Villains Want Mercy: During his final Villainous Breakdown, he's reduced to begging for his life when the other Politburo members are about to execute him.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Zigzagged. He is rightfully seen as The Dreaded by anyone in government, and civilians consider him terrifying for being head of the secret police. However, after Stalin dies, he succeeds in presenting himself to the public as a reformist and more honorable than he is, if Svetlana and Yudina's reactions are an indication.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He has a proclivity for raping children.

    Molotov 

Vyacheslav Molotov

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_molotov_3.jpg
"Stalin would be loving this."
Portrayed By: Michael Palin

"This is what Stalin would have wanted. The Committee as one."

Foreign Minister of the USSR.


  • Blind Obedience: Molotov is unquestioningly loyal to the party, and he sees Stalin and the party as one in the same. When informed by Krushchev that he was on Stalin's list for execution, Molotov can only conclude that he must have grievously wronged him somehow. Even after Beria returns Molotov's wife Polina to him, he still has trouble letting go of the narrative that she was a traitor to the party.
  • Cool Old Guy: The member of the Politburo that comes across most like this. Though it is obvious that he wouldn't have made it into the Politburo if he didn't have other skills.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After being manipulated and abused by Beria, he secretly agrees to support Khrushchev’s coup against him.
  • Faux Affably Evil: A very cheerful and personable man, but would have thrown his own wife under the bus to save his own skin... or out of blind Stalinism, which is just as bad.
  • The Fundamentalist: A weird example in that his faith is in Stalin rather than God.
  • The Funny Guy: Slips into this after Stalin dies, although it is unclear how much of this is intentional on his part.
  • Hidden Depths: Despite coming across as a Cloud Cuckoolander, he does plot with Khruschev and Kaganovich only inside his car and with a barking dog to disguise their words. He might be more of a political animal than he lets on.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: The real Molotov was also a very serious man. His cheerful grandpa movie persona is mostly Palin's.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real Molotov was not nearly so insulting towards his wife; he mourned her during the years she was in captivity and was overjoyed to have her back, although it is hinted he's hiding his true feelings under pressure.
  • Nice Guy: Deconstructed. He is big fun to have around, but if the leader were to say you are going to the Gulag, he'd just wave bye at you with a smile.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Seems to have convinced himself the Soviet Union is operating under pure Marxist lines and that Stalin should be honored by the Presidium, but doesn't seem aware that typical power-hungry attitudes are prevalent before him.

    Malenkov 

Georgy Malenkov

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_malenkov.jpg
"If you could do me a favour and just nod as I'm speaking. People are looking to me for reassurance and I have no idea what is going on."
Portrayed By: Jeffrey Tambor

Stalin's deputy. He becomes the provisional leader after his death.


  • Adaptational Wimp: While the real Malenkov was considered a weak leader, he wasn't completely inept. Foreign dignitaries noted that he was a more charming conversationalist than Khrushchev; he was just as willing (and able) to get blood on his hands as the rest of Stalin's inner circle; and he was hardly blind to Beria's attempts to use him as a puppet, but there was little he could do about it.
  • Bad Liar: Everything he says comes across as Blatant Lies... his claims of being leader of the USSR, his denial that Beria is manipulating him, and his belief of the Doctors' Plot. What's worse is that he is probably believing his own lies (and being the only one who does).
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": Spends most of the movie catching the eye of either Beria or Khrushchev to tell him what to say.
    "When I said "No problem", what I meant was, "No. Problem." ...Ignore me."
  • Bully and Wimp Pairing: The wimp to Stalin's and later Beria's bully.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Everything he says falls horribly, horribly flat.
  • The Ditherer: Malenkov has absolutely no idea what he's doing and his attempts to lead just make him look like an incompetent weathervane. Beria and Khrushchev both try to take advantage of this for their own ends.
  • The Ditz: Poor sap never realizes what is going on.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's the only one disturbed by Beria's execution, having to be bullied into it by Khrushchev and forced by circumstance. He's the only one among the cast, and probably the audience, to consider it "wrong" to kill one of their fellows in such a way.
  • Harmless Villain: Uniquely among the Politburo, he just follows the current and never has a person killed for his own gain.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The real Malenkov, while considered weak-willed, was nonetheless just as murderous as the rest of Stalin's cronies, with the Leningrad affairnote  being one of his most notorious misdeeds.
  • I Just Want to Be Badass: Tries to command respect from the others, but he really can't.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: He somehow wound up as Stalin's deputy; as such, he expects to be acclaimed as his natural successor after his death. In all likelihood, Stalin put him there in the first place because he was the only candidate incapable of becoming The Starscream and betraying him. His 'strength' in this sense makes him also unable to win the power struggle that he should have prevented in order to become leader in the first place.
  • The Leader: What he tries to be. Emphasis on tries.
  • Of Corsets Funny: Takes to wearing a girdle in order to look more 'leader-like'. Beria mercilessly takes the piss out of him for it.
  • Opinion Flip-Flop: Malenkov doesn't have strong opinions on issues and tries to rely on the will of collective leadership. It gets ridiculous during the Central Committee meeting when Molotov flip-flops on releasing prisoners, all while Malenkov lowers or raises his hand every time when Molotov changes his opinion.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: One of the best examples in recent memory. He is completely incapable of commanding respect.
  • Puppet King: Ostensibly second-in-command to Stalin, Malenkov is portrayed as completely out of his depth and pathetically easy for everyone else to manipulate. It's clear that Stalin kept him around because he was too weak to gain any popularity among the Russian people, and too stupid to pose any kind of threat.
  • Running Gag:
    • People comparing his hairdo to someone taking a shit on his head.
    • After Stalin's funeral, Malenkov insists on addressing the crowd with the same little girl that posed next to Stalin in a photo stunt years earlier. He's offered some lookalike girls, but he insists on the same one. When she's finally located and brought, he turns her down because she's grown too tall. So he settles for a lookalike... and when he addresses the crowd from the balcony, the lookalike is too short to peek over it.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Constantly dismisses accusations that Beria is controlling him until the very end.

    Kaganovich 

Lazar Kaganovich

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_kaganovich.png
"Out of my way, you fannies!"

Portrayed By: Dermot Crowley

"How can you run and plot at the same time?"

Minister of Labour.


  • The Confidant: Khrushchev uses him as a sounding board for his plots.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He is gruff and with a dry sense of humor, somewhere between Khrushchev's and Zhukov's.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Upon seeing Stalin's prone form, he's one of two members of the Central Committee (the other being Beria) not to feign grief, but instead quietly says "Shit." It's likely he knows exactly what's coming.note 
  • Good Is Not Nice: He's gruff and about as moral as the rest of the group (casually suggesting that if they can't save Stalin and need to pin it on Timaschuk, that they can shoot her afterward), but he's also the one who's consistently on Krushchev's side trying to reform the Union.
  • Number Two: Khrushchev is quick to confide in him in the woods.
  • Only Sane Man: Fills this role along with Khrushchev, which is likely why he acts as the latter's Confidant. On some level, he seems to be aware of how blackly absurd the whole situation is.
    "I've had nightmares that made more sense than this."
  • Seen It All: As noted under Establishing Character Moment, Kaganovich knows exactly what's coming with Stalin's death, having been a Bolshevik since 1917 when they seized power and having then supported Stalin's own power struggle. He is thus crucial for Khruschev's schemes. Ironically, he would literally see the entirety of Soviet history, dying in 1991 right before the GKChP coup and dissolution of the USSR. He was the last Old Bolshevik to go.
  • Sibling Murder: Beria unambiguously suggests that Lazar is guilty in the death of his brother Mikhail (who was fired from the position of minister, then accused of alleged association with some right-wing group and, in order to avoid torture and execution, Mikhail shot himself after that; all while Lazar didn't do anything to protect him in spite of his high position). Kaganovich accepts the guilt, but angrily says it wasn't easy.
  • Token Minority: He is the only Jewish member of the Central Committee by the time of Stalin's death, both in the movie and in real life.

    Bulganin 

Nikolai Bulganin

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_bulganin.png
Portrayed By: Paul Chahidi

"Jesus Christ, it's the bishops!"

Deputy premier and minister of defense.


  • Ambiguously Gay: He is somewhat flamboyant and fabulous-looking due to his uniform and hairstyle.
  • Butt-Monkey: In a deleted scene, Zhukov pranks him by pretending to execute him during Beria's purge. There is some subtext because as minister of defense, he is Zhukov's superior — a position some would argue that he is unworthy of, and stealing it by default, from Zhukov.
  • Demoted to Extra: He was not a big character to begin with, but most of his lines were cut from the final film.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Is visibly outraged when he hears of Beria's sexual crimes with children as young as seven.
  • General Failure: He comes off as a bit of a coward, and Zhukov, who is nominally his subordinate, treats him with contempt.
  • The Generic Guy: Doesn't get much development.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Though not clear in the final cut, he comes across as this in the deleted scenes. For a minister of defense, he seems out of his depth and not familiar with military matters, wondering if Stalin's dacha is under attack after one perimeter mine goes off (nevermind that if it was really under attack, neither him nor Beria would be nonchalantly speaking on the door frame). The prank scene also shows that the Red Army has no respect for him.note 
  • Those Two Guys: With Mikoyan.
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    Mikoyan 

Anastas Mikoyan

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mikoyan_death_of_stalin_9.jpg
Portrayed By: Paul Whitehouse

Vice-Premier of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Trade.


  • At Least I Admit It: Finds Beria's attempts to whitewash his actions absurd, saying, "We all knew what we were doing."
  • Demoted to Extra: While always the most undeveloped of the Committee members, the final film cut several lines from him, including a whole scene where he tells Svetlana that he is the "sickle" to Bulganin's "hammer".
  • Doomed New Clothes: Mikoyan complains bitterly about getting Stalin's urine all over his new suit — which had required three fittings — as they carry Stalin to his bedroom.
  • The Generic Guy: Doesn't get much development or characterization, but unlike Bulganin, he actually played this up to avoid getting purged. It worked.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The movie posters even credit him as "The Schemer". Much like in real life, he was loyal to Stalin, but is quick to align with Khrushchev. Later on, his loyalties would tie to Brezhnev, who, at the end of the film, was plotting against Khrushchev. The fact that he avoided a downfall in what would be a similar situation to the movie later on, and was the only old Bolshevik to retire and die peacefully on his own terms, indicated that this strategy worked.
  • Historical Downgrade: The film portrays him as being a cowardly Yes-Man like the rest of the Presidium. By contrast, the real Mikoyan was something of an Honest Advisor who was actually ballsy enough to argue with Stalin!
  • Schemer: Called that in promotional material.
  • Those Two Guys: With Bulganin.
  • Token Minority: The only Armenian of the group.

Other Characters

    Zhukov 

Field Marshal Georgy Zhukov

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_zhukov.JPG
"I fucked Germany. I think I can take a flesh lump in a fucking waistcoat."
Portrayed By: Jason Isaacs

Decorated war hero, and head of the Red Army.


  • Artistic License – Military: Zhukov never held the rank of Field Marshal; such a rank didn't exist in the Red Army. He was a Marshal of the Soviet Union in real life.
  • Badass Boast: See his quote up there.
  • Berserk Button: Disgrace the Red Army's uniform in front of him at your own peril.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Him and the Red Army seize control away from the NKVD and bring an end to Beria's terror.
  • The Big Guy: The brute force behind Khrushchev's faction.
  • Brutal Honesty: Doesn't pull punches with his words. It's Truth in Television, too. When Svetlana comes across her brother Vassily beaten down on the floor and demands to know who did it, Zhukov admits without any shame.
    "I did, and I enjoyed it. Been a long time coming.".
  • Chest of Medals: His torso is plastered with various medals, of which he's evidently extremely proud.
  • The Coats Are Off: He sheds his coat in slow motion when arriving at Stalin's funeral; it's a hilariously appropriate introduction to such a hammy, boastful man.
  • Deadpan Snarker: His sense of humor is very unrestrained, since he doesn't seem remotely concerned with the possible consequences of insulting the likes of Beria.
  • The Dreaded: While not to the extent of Stalin or Beria, nobody is willing to mess with him or at least to his face, and even Svetlana is unwilling to confront him over his attack on her brother.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: Joins Khrushchev's side amid preparations for Stalin's funeral to help bring down Beria, and sorta fills the role of Token Good Teammate by a forgiving definition.
  • Four-Star Badass: It's only Marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov who led the Red Army to victory against the Nazis and won't let anyone forget it. His high position makes him virtually untouchable, a blessing for Khrushchev once it's clear Zhukov is on his side.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Interrupts Vasily's paranoid rant with a single punch, calling him a disgrace to the uniform.
    "NOT TODAY! YOU'RE A FUCKING STAIN ON THAT UNIFORM AND YOU BEST FUCKING BEHAVE!"
  • Hollywood History: He corrects Khrushchev's claim that he took Hitler's bunker by assault. It was Goebbels's bunker.
  • I Call It "Vera": He calls submachine guns "ladies". He calls men ladies too, for that matter.
  • Incoming Ham: His arrival into the film is marked with a Slow Motion The Coats Are Off moment, in addition to the wonderful line:
    "Right, what’s a war hero got to do to get some LUBRICATION around here?"
  • Large Ham: His bluntness is portrayed with a Yorkshire accent as broad as the moors, and by insulting pretty much everyone he runs into.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: Has the least baggage of the Soviet elite against him and helped bring an end to the Nazis. Despite his haughtiness at home, he's ready to bring Beria to justice and loathes the NKVD.
  • The Paragon: Having led the Red Army to victory over the Nazis, Marshall Zhukov is a major source of inspiration and heroism for the Soviet Union, which makes him untouchable as far as political games are concerned. He thus exploits this role in leading the Red Army against the NKVD, which makes him the most valuable member in Khrushchev's team.
  • Pet the Dog: When Beria announces that all trains heading to Moscow will be stopped, Zhukov indignantly insists that the Soviet people have a right to attend Stalin's funeral.
  • Refuge in Audacity: He clearly knows that his accomplishments make him untouchable, and so doesn't give a damn about doing things like punching Stalin's son square in the face or insulting Malenkov's hair to his face.
  • Rugged Scar: He has a scar down his brow. note 
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Drops an f-bomb every other word.
  • Sixth Ranger: Joins Khrushchev late but decisively.
  • Stepford Smiler: He tells Beria and Khrushchev that he's pissed off something fierce about Beria keeping his men confined to their barracks, all with a big grin on his face.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Zhukov and the Red Army are Khrushchev's summoned bigger fish to eat Beria and the NKVD.
  • Talk to the Fist: Has a very direct and unambiguous way of expressing his disapproval of someone.
  • Token Good Teammate: Well, a given value, at least — on Khrushchev's side, he's the one with the least amount of dirt Beria has on him and the least ambiguous in morality, compared to the others.
  • Tranquil Fury: He expresses his anger to Beria and Khrushchev about NKVD replacing Red Army soldiers in Moscow with a happy face.
    "I mean, I'm smiling, but I am very fucking furious".
  • Trench Coat Warfare: When secretly preparing for Beria's arrest, he swings his coat open to reveal vast numbers of guns for his lieutenants.
  • Troll: He enjoys fucking with people.
    "I'm going to have to report this conversation, threatening to do harm or obstruct any member of presidium in the process of...(cracks up)...look at your fucking face!"
  • Talk to the Fist: The instant he sees Vasily, he punches him square in the face.
  • You Don't Look Like You: The movie version of Zhukov looks more like Konstantin Rokossovsky, another famed Soviet Marshal, than the historical Zhukov.

    Yudina 

Maria Yudina

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_yudina.jpg
"I know. But I'm confident of everlasting life."
Portrayed By: Olga Kurylenko

A renowned pianist and opponent of the Soviet regime.


  • Age Lift: Either this or Playing Gertrude. The real Yudina was in her mid-fifties by the time of Stalin's death, while Kurilenko was in her late 30's at the time the movie was made (and looks even younger).
  • But Not Too Foreign: In a movie notable for casting English and Americans Not Even Bothering with the Accent as Soviets, she is notable for being played by an actress actually born in the Soviet Union.
  • Every Woman has her Price: And hers is 20,000 rubles.
  • Face Death with Dignity: She seems to be in a permanent, but low-intensity, heroic-suicidal mode. Andreyev sarcastically compares her to Joan of Arc.
  • The Fundamentalist: Downplayed, but she must really be convinced of her faith if she can affirm it and her belief in the afterlife in front of the atheist Soviet leadership. This was the case with her in real life, too.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: To a minor extent. She didn't have to be bribed to record another performance, but did so willingly, knowing that if she refused, she'd be risking the lives of numerous other musicians. She did receive the 20,000 rubles, but they were a gift from Stalin, and she quickly re-gifted the money to her church.
  • It's Personal: Her letter to Stalin chides him for purging her loved ones.
  • Money, Dear Boy: In-universe, she refuses to repeat the concert so it can be recorded for Stalin. She changes her mind when Andreyev agrees to pay her 20,000 rubles, however.
  • Reality Subtext: The film is banned in Russia, came out while Ukraine and Russia were fighting an undeclared war in Donetsk, and the character personifying Soviet objectors is played by an Ukrainian actress.
    • Considering Ukrainians hate the Stalinist regime for the Holodomor Famine, which killed millions of Ukrainians, it's deliciously ironic that the woman who hands Stalin the note in this movie that kills him is played by a Ukrainian actress.
  • Rebellious Spirit: One that almost gets her killed, and instead puts her under constant watch.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: When she refuses to repeat the concert, just because The Caligula wants to have a record.
  • Unluckily Lucky: She avoids execution for her scathing letter to Stalin by unintentionally causing his death, but now she's under constant watch by Soviet officials. In a deleted scene, she catches Beria's eye for even wronger reasons, but fortunately Beria is executed before he can act on this.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Her note causes Stalin to Die Laughing, which causes a power struggle, the death of Beria, his minions, and several hundreds of innocents. It does work out a bit in the end, though.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Double Subverted. She knows her rebel girl antics will get her killed or closely watched in the Soviet Union rather than be a beacon for change, but when reform does appear on the horizon after Stalin's death, she thinks Beria is approaching her because he is the reformer, while Khrushchev isn't.

    Andreyev 

Comrade Andreyev

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_andreyev.jpg
"Don't worry, nobody's gonna get killed, I promise you! This is just a... musical emergency."
Portrayed By: Paddy Considine

The director of the performance at the beginning of the film.


  • Advertised Extra: Despite Paddy Considine being third-billed, he only appears at the very beginning and very end of the film. As a character, he's crucial only for the benefit of the audience, to establish the aura of fear that pervades Stalin's Russia.
  • The Everyman: Personifies the average Soviet citizen who just wants to survive. He neither cares for seizing power (like the Politburo) nor for rebelling against it (like Yudina).
  • False Reassurance: He's obviously scared shitless while trying to repeat the concert, so he doesn't help a lot in calming the public.
  • Last-Name Basis: He is not given a first name.
  • Oh, Crap!: His entire screentime consists of one moment of this after the other. Stalin personally calls him and asks for a recording of the night's performance... but it wasn't recorded, so he decides to repeat it. Then the conductor is knocked unconcious, and a large chunk of the audience depart, affecting the acoustics. And Maria Yudina refuses to play her part, and though she's convinced to, she later slips a suicidally rebellious note into the record sleeve, which he fails to intercept.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Inverted. He bribes Yudina into going along with the rules.

    Timaschuk 

Dr. Lidiya Timaschuk

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_timaschuk.jpg
Portrayed By: Cara Horgan

A female doctor pressured by Beria to act as a denouncer in Moscow's medical community.


  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: There was a real Dr. Lidiya Timaschuk who was a KGB informant, acted as the main witness of the Doctor's Plot, and was arrested when the case was abandoned. Everything else is presumably fictional.
  • Demoted to Extra: Her longest scene detailing her fate was cut.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Despite her enthusiastic service, Beria handpicks her as the fall girl for Stalin's death.
  • Refuge in Audacity: According to the deleted scene, Beria likes to have sex with her while on top of Stalin's desk.
  • The Scapegoat: Chosen as one for Stalin's death.
  • Sexual Extortion: Beria didn't miss the opportunity, naturally. He claims she has "a great talent for fellatio".
  • Stuff Blowing Up: In the deleted scene, Beria tells her to run away and she is killed when she steps on a mine outside Stalin's dacha.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: She is the only one of the truck's doctors that is not seen being loaded back when Stalin's dacha is dismantled. Her fate is explained in the deleted scenes.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: What Beria thinks of her.

    Brezhnev 

General Leonid Brezhnev

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dos_brezhnev.png

Portrayed By: Gerald Lepkowski

An army officer who supports Zhukov during the coup against Beria.


  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Just as the real Brezhnev had.
  • Chest of Medals: Not as impressive as Zhukov's, but still extensive.
  • Colonel Badass: Historically, he left the Army as a Lieutenant General, but he spends the film acting as Zhukov's aide de camp, and his few lines make him out to be something of a Zhukov-lite.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Zhukov opens his coat to reveal two AK-47s and tells his men to pick them as their dates for the evening. Brezhnev says he'll have the tall blonde.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's seen visibly wincing in the background when the list of charges against Beria are being read.
  • Here We Go Again!: The final scene of the film shows Khrushchev attending a concert, and Brezhnev is sitting one row above him keenly keeping an eye on the new General Secretary.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The real Brezhnev was notoriously corrupt, authoritarian, vain, and prone to embarrassing levels of self-aggrandizement. By the time he took office as General Secretary, he was quite overweight and an alcoholic, and he would go on to develop gout, severe heart disease, and an addiction to sleeping pills. Additionally, towards the end of his tenure — which ended with his death at age 75 — he also began showing signs of dementia. To be fair, Brezhnev was still relatively young at the time of the film's events, but it's still jarring for anyone familiar with Russian history to see him portrayed as a trim, competent, brave military officer.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: After Khrushchev claims that Malenkov is on board, Zhukov looks to a nearby building where Brezhnev is watching and nods.
    "Okay, let's go and catch a pig for the pot."
  • Number Two: Along with General Ivan Konev, he follows Zhukov's orders when arresting Beria.
  • The Starscream: He eventually deposed Khrushchev, despite being one of his key followers.
  • Young Future Famous People: He appears near the end and is indicated as the man who will succeed Khrushchev.
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