Moscow Court Suspends Ministry Decision To Ban Comedian Of Azerbaijani Origin From Russia.

A court in Moscow has suspended an Interior Ministry decision to ban a stand-up comic of Azerbaijani origin from entering and residing in the country for life over his on-stage joke about Russians.

Sergei Badamshin, a lawyer for comedian Idrak Mirzalizade, said on Telegram that the Zamoskvorechye district court had suspended the decision on September 16 until a full court decision on the issue is made.

The Interior Ministry said on August 30 that the presence in the Russian Federation of Mirzalizade, a Belarusian citizen who holds permanent residence in Russia, is "undesirable" because of his statements that "incited hatred and enmity towards ethnic Russians."

Mirzalizade, who is a well-known stand-up comic in Moscow, has said the performance at the heart of the controversy was about problems faced by non-Russians when they want to rent an apartment in the Russian capital.

In the performance, the comedian jokes about what would happen if the perception of Russians by others was based on separate incidents, drawing a parallel with situations that shape prejudices about non-Russians living among Russians.

Mirzalizade served 10 days in jail in August for the performance.

Though he has maintained his innocence, he also has publicly offered apologies several times to "all who felt insulted by some parts of my performance, which were taken out of context."

Earlier in June, the comic wrote on Instagram that two unknown men attacked him after he received several threats because of his performance.

He also placed on YouTube a video showing the moment of the attack.

Mirzalizade is an ethnic Talysh, which is a Persian-speaking ethnic minority of Azerbaijan.

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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