GameTV re Eastern Promises

CBSC Decision 15/16-1652
2016 CBSC 10
December 21, 2016
A. Noël (Chair), P. Gratton, R. Hutson, H. Mack, C. Scott, G. Spenrath


Eastern Promises is a 2007 dramatic film by David Cronenberg about the Russian mafia.  It is a British-American-Canadian co-production.  Its plot is as follows:  After a 14-year-old girl dies in childbirth, a British-Russian midwife named Anna Khitrova attempts to track down the girl’s family for the sake of the surviving baby girl.  Her investigation leads her to the Russian mafia, in particular the London-based family of a mob boss named Semyon.  Anna encounters Semyon’s adult son Kirill as well as the family’s driver and “cleaner” Nikolai Luzhin.  The film focuses principally on Anna and Nikolai as details about Semyon’s criminal activities and the relationships between all the characters are revealed over the course of the film.

The broadcast contained numerous instances of the word “fuck” and its variations, as well as scenes of explicit sex and graphic violence. For example, in one scene, Kirill and Nikolai are at a brothel.  Kirill insists that Nikolai must have sex with one of the women in order to prove he is worthy of rising within the ranks of the mob.  Kirill watches as Nikolai has intercourse with a dejected-looking prostitute.  She is naked, with bare breasts visible as he penetrates her aggressively from behind while she is on all fours.  After Nikolai is finished, the woman lies on the bed and sings sadly to herself.

Among numerous scenes of violence, there is the very first scene of the movie in which a man gets his throat sliced while sitting in a barber chair. The man’s body is later shown frozen in a chest freezer, which Nikolai then has to thaw with a hair dryer before cutting off the finger tips.

A very lengthy and graphic scene of violence occurs partway through the film. Nikolai is naked at a bath house and is attacked by two thugs.  The viewer catches glimpses of his genitals as he fights off his attackers with various kicking, throwing and punching moves.  The thugs both have knives which they use to slice Nikolai on both the front and back.  Nikolai eventually manages to use the blades to kill both thugs in a gruesome manner, including stabbing one in the eye.

The film also deals with many mature themes, such as human trafficking; drugging, raping and forcing young women into prostitution; and other nefarious mob activities. (A more detailed description and transcription of relevant scenes can be found in Appendix A.)

GameTV aired the film on June 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm Eastern Time with the following advisory in audio and video formats, at the beginning of the broadcast and coming out of every commercial break:

This program contains scenes of violence, coarse language & mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.

GameTV did not display any classification icons.

On June 11, the CBSC received a complaint from a viewer who lives in the Pacific time zone and therefore saw the broadcast at 5:00 pm. The complainant specifically mentioned the bath house scene, noting that the advisory did not warn about the nudity.  In a subsequent letter, he also complained that the film was aired unedited at 5:00 pm.  GameTV responded to him on July 4, who agreed that the advisory should have alerted to “nudity” and assured the complainant that it would be present on future broadcasts.  The station apologized for its initial oversight and also stated that it had re-edited the film for future broadcast.  The complainant wrote back to the CBSC on July 4, indicating that he wanted to pursue his complaint because he felt that GameTV should have exercised better discretion in its advisory and scheduling of this film.  He suggested that GameTV has a history of broadcasting objectionable content during daytime hours and that, given that much of GameTV’s schedule is wholesome game shows, it should be all the more cautious when broadcasting adult material because not all viewers expect to encounter it on this channel.  (The full text of all correspondence can be found in Appendix B.)


The English-Language Panel examined the complaint under the following provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code and the CAB Code of Ethics:

CAB Violence Code, Article 3.0 – Scheduling

3.1       Programming

3.1.1   Programming which contains scenes of violence intended for adult audiences shall not be telecast before the late evening viewing period, defined as 9 pm to 6 am.


(Note: To accommodate the reality of time zone differences, and Canadian distant signal importation, these guidelines shall be applied to the time zone in which the signal originates.)

CAB Violence Code, Article 4.0 – Classification

Icon Use Protocols


The rating icon is to be keyed over the first 15-16 seconds of the program. [...]  For programs which run longer than one hour, the icon is to be repeated at the beginning of the second hour.  These are minimal use standards; stations may wish to use the icons more frequently on programs with particularly sensitive content.

Classifications for English- & Foreign-Language Broadcasters

14+ - Over 14 Years

Programming with this classification contains themes or content elements which might not be suitable for viewers under the age of 14. Parents are strongly cautioned to exercise discretion in permitting viewing by pre-teens and early teens without parent/guardian supervision, as programming with this classification could deal with mature themes and societal issues in a realistic fashion.

Violence Guidelines

Other Content Guidelines

Language:     could possibly include strong or frequent use of profanity

Sex/Nudity:   might include scenes of nudity and/or sexual activity within the context of narrative or theme

18 + - Adults

Intended for viewers 18 years and older.

This classification applies to programming which could contain any or all of the following content elements which would make the program unsuitable for viewers under the age of 18.

Violence Guidelines

Other Content Guidelines

Language:     might contain graphic language

Sex/Nudity:   might contain explicit portrayals of sex and/or nudity

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 10 – Television Broadcasting (Scheduling)

a) Programming which contains sexually explicit material or coarse or offensive language intended for adult audiences shall not be telecast before the late viewing period, defined as 9 pm to 6 am. Broadcasters shall refer to the CAB Violence Code for provisions relating to the scheduling of programming containing depictions of violence.


(Note: To accommodate the reality of time zone differences, and Canadian distant signal importation, these guidelines shall be applied to the time zone in which the signal originates.)

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 11 – Viewer Advisories

To assist consumers in making their viewing choices, when programming includes mature subject matter or scenes with nudity, sexually explicit material, coarse or offensive language, or other material susceptible of offending viewers, broadcasters shall provide a viewer advisory

a) at the beginning of, and after every commercial break during the first hour of programming telecast in late viewing hours which contains such material which is intended for adult audiences, or

b) at the beginning of, and after every commercial break during programming telecast outside of late viewing hours which contains such material which is not suitable for children.

Suggested language for suitable viewer advisories is outlined in Appendix A. The suggestions are meant as possible illustrations; broadcasters are encouraged to adopt wording which is likeliest to provide viewers with the most relevant and useful information regarding the programming to which it applies.

The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and viewed a recording of the challenged broadcast. The Panel concludes that GameTV breached Article 3.0 of the CAB Violence Code and Clause 10 a) of the CAB Code of Ethics for the scheduling of the film, Clause 11 of the CAB Code of Ethics for failing to mention the nudity and sexual content in the film, and Article 4.0 of the CAB Violence Code for failing to provide any classification on the broadcast.

Scheduling of Material Intended for Adult Audiences

The Panel Adjudicators find that, in this broadcast, any one of the elements of violence, coarse language, sexuality and mature themes alone would have rendered the film “intended exclusively for adults”. That is all the more so true in combination, as those elements are in Eastern Promises.  Article 3.0 of the CAB Violence Code and Clause 10 of the CAB Code of Ethics require programming intended exclusively for adults to be broadcast only during the late viewing period, defined as 9:00 pm to 6:00 am.[1]  In this case, the broadcaster did not respect the scheduling restrictions and consequently breached the provisions of Article 3.0 of the CAB Violence Code and of Clause 10 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

The Panel Adjudicators recognize that the complainant viewed this broadcast in the Pacific time zone at 5:00 pm. The Panel Adjudicators are aware that the scheduling restrictions only apply to the time zone in which the signal originates.  They wish to remind specialty services with a single feed to be aware that their programming appears earlier in other time zones.  Although no breach will be found if they respect the scheduling requirement in the time zone of origination, they should be mindful of this reality when selecting their time slots for this type of programming.[2]

Viewer Advisories

As set out in Clause 11 of the CAB Code of Ethics, viewer advisories are meant ”to assist consumers in making their viewing choices, when programming includes mature subject matter or scenes with nudity, sexually explicit material, coarse or offensive language or other material susceptible of offending viewers”.  Therefore, the advisories must refer to all the above-mentioned mature content (as well as violence as per Article 5.0 of the CAB Violence Code) in a particular broadcast.[3]  In this case, the advisory failed to mention both nudity and sexually explicit material.  Both require mention as separate program elements, since one can be present without the other.  The Panel Adjudicators have already determined above that the broadcast of this particular movie was intended exclusively for adult audiences because of the quantity and nature of the violence, sexual activity, coarse language and mature themes presented.  Therefore, the Panel Adjudicators conclude that GameTV was in breach of Clause 11 of the CAB Code of Ethics, because it did not air complete advisories.


Article 4.0 of the CAB Violence Code requires that rating icons be keyed over the first 15-16 seconds of a program and, if the program runs longer than an hour, that it be repeated at the beginning of the second hour.  In this case, GameTV failed to provide any classification information. The Panel Adjudicators have already determined that the movie broadcast by GameTV was intended for an adult audience only, for the reasons mentioned above.  For the same reasons, the Panel Adjudicators are of the view that the proper classification for this program should have been 18+ because it contained depictions of violence, nudity, graphic language and explicit portrayals of sex intended for adult viewing.[4]

Because it failed to provide any classification information and icons, the Panel Adjudicators conclude that GameTV was in breach of Article 4.0 of the CAB Violence Code when it broadcast the movie Eastern Promises.

Broadcaster Responsiveness

In all CBSC decisions, the Panels assess the broadcaster’s response to the complainant. The broadcaster need not agree with the complainant’s position, but it must respond in a courteous, thoughtful and thorough manner.  In this case, GameTV agreed with the complainant regarding the absence of “nudity” in the viewer advisories and indicated that it had taken measures to rectify the situation, including reviewing their internal guidelines, re-editing the film and assuring more detailed advisories on future airings.  Although this did not satisfy the complainant and there were other aspects of the broadcast (scheduling and classification) that required the Panel’s attention, the broadcaster fulfilled its obligations of responsiveness.  Subject to the announcement of this decision, nothing further is required in this regard in this instance.

Announcement of the Decision

GameTV is required to: 1) announce the decision, in the following terms, once during prime time within three days following the release of this decision and once more within seven days following the release of this decision during the time period in which Eastern Promises was broadcast, but not on the same day as the first mandated announcement; 2) within the fourteen days following the broadcasts of the announcements, to provide written confirmation of the airing of the statement to the complainant who filed the Ruling Request; and 3) at that time, to provide the CBSC with a copy of that written confirmation and with air check copies of the broadcasts of the two announcements which must be made by GameTV.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that GameTV breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Violence Code and Code of Ethics in its broadcast of the film Eastern Promises on June 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm.  The movie contained violence, sexuality, nudity, coarse language and mature themes that should not have been broadcast before 9:00 pm.  The viewer advisories should have noted “sexuality” and “nudity”.  GameTV should have displayed an 18+ rating.

This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

[1] CIHF-TV (MITV) re an episode of Millennium (CBSC Decision 96/97-0044, February 14, 1997); TQS re the movie L’inconnu (Never Talk to Strangers) (CBSC Decision 98/99-0176, June 23, 1999); Showcase Television re the movie Rats (CBSC Decision 99/00-0772, August 23, 2001); CTV re The Sopranos (Season 2) (CBSC Decision 01/02-0104+, May 9, 2002); Bravo! re the movie Perfect Timing (CBSC Decision 03/04-1719, December 15, 2004); CTV re an episode of Criminal Minds (“Omnivore”) (CBSC Decision 08/09-1405, June 25, 2009)

[2] Bravo! re the documentary film Give Me Your Soul (CBSC Decision 00/01-1021, January 16, 2002); OUTtv re the film L.I.E. (CBSC Decision 09/10-1703, January 7, 2011); Much re Workaholics (“Dorm Daze”) (CBSC Decision 15/16-0525, June 16, 2016)

[3] Showcase Television re the movie Rats (CBSC Decision 99/00-0772, August 23, 2001); CITY-TV re the feature film Jade (CBSC Decision 03/04-0382, October 22, 2004); Bravo! re the movie Perfect Timing (CBSC Decision 03/04-1719, December 15, 2004); Bravo! re the movie Up! (CBSC Decision 03/04-0930, December 15, 2004); Global re ReGenesis (“Baby Bomb”) (CBSC Decision 04/05-1996, January 20, 2006); Teletoon re Team America: World Police (CBSC Decision 07/08-1011, August 7, 2008); The Comedy Network re South Park (CBSC Decision 09/10-1432 & -1562, October 5, 2010); CITY-DT re The Long Weekend (CBSC Decision 13/14-0046, February 5, 2014)

[4] CTV re The Sopranos (Season 2) (CBSC Decision 01/02-0104+, May 9, 2002); CTV re The Eleventh Hour (“Hard Seven”) (CBSC Decision 03/04-1738, December 15, 2004); CTV re an episode of Criminal Minds (“Omnivore”) (CBSC Decision 08/09-1405, June 25, 2009)

Appendix A

GameTV broadcast Eastern Promises on on June 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm Eastern Time.  GameTV broadcast the following viewer advisory, in audio and video formats, at the beginning of the broadcast and coming out of every commercial break:

This program contains scenes of violence, coarse language & mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.

GameTV did not display any classification icons, either at the beginning or the top of the second hour.

The following scenes are those that contain coarse language, violence or sexual content:


It is a rainy December evening in London. There is an exterior shot of Azim’s Barber Shop.  Inside, a man named Soyka is sitting in a barber chair.  Azim is cutting Soyka’s hair and chatting to Soyka while he reads a newspaper.  Azim’s 16-year-old, somewhat developmentally delayed nephew Ekrem enters the shop.  After exchanging a few words, Azim tries to get Ekrem to take the shaving knife (ustura), but Ekrem is reluctant.

Azim:  Take the fucking ustura and finish this Rushca!

Ekrem takes the razor and saws at Soyka’s throat while Azim holds Soyka in the chair. Soyka makes gagging noises and blood pours out of Soyka’s throat.  Ekrem pulls away and Soyka collapses dead; blood spurts out of his neck.


A 14-year-old girl named Tatiana is on the street, barefoot but wearing a trenchcoat over her shoulders. She enters a pharmacy, walks up to the prescriptions counter and says she needs help.  She looks down and sees a large amount of blood gush from between her legs to the floor.  Then she faints.

The scene cuts to Tatiana on a gurney being wheeled through a hospital with an oxygen mask on. A midwife named Anna is walking alongside the gurney, asking the attendant for details of her condition and if he knows the girl’s name.  Anna takes Tatiana’s purse, looking for identification.

Anna & other medical staff have Tatiana in an operating room. Her legs are still covered in blood.  They are discussing Tatiana’s condition and that of her unborn baby.  Anna looks at Tatiana’s arms which have marks on them seemingly from intravenous drug use.  Anna tells the doctor they need to get the baby out now.

There is then a newborn lying on table covered in blood and mucus. They put an oxygen mask over the baby’s face and clamp the umbilical cord.  The doctor announces “I’m afraid we’ve lost the mother”.  The oxygen mask is removed and the baby is shown breathing on her own.

Anna has taken home a diary from deceased Tatiana’s purse in order to find contact information. The diary is written in Russian, a language which Anna cannot read.  Anna lives with her mother.  Her Uncle Stepan visits often.  Anna’s father was Russian and Stepan is apparently his brother, so he understands Russian.  Stepan looks at the diary and tells Anna to bury the girl’s secrets with her body.  Anna finds a business card for the Trans-Siberian Restaurant inside the diary pages, so she goes there to see if she can get more information about Tatiana’s family.

The viewer hears portions of the diary in Tatiana’s voice in voice-over. She says her father died in the mines in Russia, so she came to London to find a better life.


Kirill:   [to Nikolai]  You will pick up Azim and bring him back here with his bitch of a wife.


Anna is locking her motorcycle up outside the Trans-Siberian Restaurant. Kirill & Nikolai see her.

Kirill:   [to Nikolai, in Russian with English subtitles]  Who the fuck’s that?

Nikolai:          [in Russian with English subtitles]  Maybe someone sent your dad a hooker for Christmas.

Kirill:   Man, you are so fucking unbelievably disrespectful.  [Nikolai continues to look at Anna]  Hey, you got work to do.

Nikolai:          Fuck off.


Kirill:   [on cell phone]  Coast is clear?  Yeah?  What?  No, not beach.  I said “coast”.  It’s an English expression, you fucking baboon.  It means, it means there are no police.


Azim takes Kirill & Nikolai to the rooms above his barber shop. Ekrem is there, but startles them with his excitement at having obtained tickets to a sold-out soccer match.  Kirill asks Azim if Ekrem knows to say that he has not seen them there if anyone asks.  Azim says Ekrem knows nothing because he has been “touched by the angels”, referring to his developmental disability.

Azim opens a large freezer to reveal the body of Soyka. The body is contorted into a cramped position so it would fit into the freezer.  It is also covered in frost and there is a lot of frozen blood around the body’s neck.  Azim, Kirill & Nikolai look at the body.  Kirill is munching on nuts.

Kirill:   He was like a brother.  And now ... now he looks like a fucking ice cream.  [laughs]

After exchanging a few more words, Kirill tells Nikolai “he’s all yours” and spits nutshells onto the body. Nikolai knocks his fist on the body to see that it is solid, then asks Azim for a hairdryer.

The body is now laid out on a table. There are close-ups of the body’s bloody, frozen neck.  Nikolai has a cigarette dangling from his lips while he runs the hairdryer over the body.  Kirill is lounging on top of a desk nearby and Azim looks on, unsettled.  Nikolai thaws the body’s clothes enough to get the wallet out of the inside jacket pocket.  He asks Azim “Are you finished cutting his hair?  I thought you might want $6.50 from his pocket.”Kirill laughs.  Nikolai throws the wallet at Azim and tells him to burn it.

Nikolai:          Okay, now I’m going to do his teeth and cut off his fingers.  [to Azim] You might want to leave room.

Azim leaves. Nikolai takes one more drag from his cigarette, stubs it out on his own tongue and throws it on the floor  Nikolai takes out a tool and leans over the body near the fingers, as Kirill also leaves the room.

The scene then switches to Nikolai & Kirill driving in a white van up to steps by the river. They take the wrapped-up body out of the van and lob it into the river.  The wrapped body floats out into the river and then sinks.


Kirill is stumbling drunk and being obnoxious. Nikolai carries Kirill up the front steps of his father’s restaurant.  Semyon has just locked the door on them.

Nikolai:          Where’s your fucking keys?

Nikolai gets Kirill inside where Kirill is laughing and rolling on the floor. Semyon kicks Kirill in the stomach.

Kirill:   Hey, Papa!  What’d I do?  Is it Merry Christmas or what? [Kirill giggles drunkenly]

Semyon kicks Kirill again. Nikolai places his hand on Semyon’s shoulder.

Nikolai:          [in Russian with English subtitles]  I think he’s had enough.

Semyon:        Who the fuck are you to tell me “enough”?


The police have set up a tent and are scouring the beach along the river. The body that Nikolai & Kirill dumped is laid out inside the tent.  The body is wearing dark-coloured clothing with one shoe missing and is covered in sand & dirt.  Yuri, a specialist from the Russian Desk, has arrived.  An officer tells Yuri that they suspect the victim of being Russian mafia.  Yuri pulls up the body’s pant leg to reveal its tattooed knee.  There is a close-up of the body’s dead face, dirty with sand.  Yuri explains to the officer that, for the Russian mafia, the tattoos explain a person’s life story.  Yuri lifts the body’s hand to reveal that the fingers have been cut off.  Yuri comments that the body has been “professionally processed”.  The officer also shows Yuri a piece of paper that was found in the body’s jacket.


Kirill & Nikolai are at a brothel. There is a young woman looking sick and dejected, sitting down.  Kirill is watching another young woman dance around a pole.  He has his shirt open & a bottle in his hand.  Three other young women are sitting nearby, drinking and smoking; two of them are kissing each other.  Kirill kisses the neck of the woman dancing and rubs his face in her skirt.  Nikolai is sitting with a young woman on his lap, kissing her.  Kirill goes and sits on the other side of Nikolai’s lap.  The woman takes a swig from a bottle.

Kirill:   So, which one are you going to fuck?

Nikolai:          What do you care?

Kirill:   Serious.  [Kirill gets off of Nikolai’s lap]  Pick one.

Nikolai:          [he mumbles something in Russian that is not subtitled].  Let me enjoy myself.  [he turns to resume kissing the young woman on his lap]

Kirill:   Hear me.  You’re going to fuck one of these girls.

The woman beside Nikolai tips the alcohol bottle to his lips.

Nikolai:          Okay, okay.

Kirill:   You’re going to fuck one of these girls now.  [in Russian with English subtitles]  That’s an order!

Kirill throws the bottle in his hand and it breaks on a table. He grabs by the face the young woman sitting on Nikolai’s lap and throws her aside.  Then Kirill grabs Nikolai and yanks him up from the chair.

Nikolai:          [in Russian with English subtitles]  What’s the matter with you?

Kirill:   You are going to fuck, [?].

Nikolai:          Calm down, Kirill.

Kirill:   I am recommending you to my father.  I have to be sure that you ain’t no fucking queer.

Nikolai:          [in Russian with English subtitles]  That’s enough, Kirill.

Kirill:   [in Russian with English subtitles] Enough?  Siberian ox….  [in English]  You don’t tell a vor what is “enough”.  [Kirill shoves Nikolai’s shoulder.]  I am taking you to my father’s favourite stable.  He comes here himself! ʼCause they’re all clean!

The woman by the pole has stopped dancing while Nikolai & Kirill argue. Kirill smacks her buttocks twice & then lifts her skirt to reveal red panties.

Kirill:   So now I’m going to watch you fuck one of these bitches.  So you can prove me that you are no queer.  [Kirill sticks his finger under Nikolai’s chin in a threatening manner]

Nikolai:          [in Russian with English subtitle]  Psycho.  [Kirill laughs & puts his arm around Nikolai’s shoulder]

Kirill:   [in Russian with English subtitles]  So, which one is it going to be?

Kirill walks Nikolai towards the women and they stop in front of the one who looks dejected and scared.

Nikolai:          That one.  [Kirill laughs]

The scene switches to Nikolai & the young woman in a different room. The woman is on all fours on a bed, looking even more dejected than before.  She is naked and her breasts are visible as Nikolai has intercourse with her from behind.  He grabs her arms & torso and thrusts his pelvis aggressively.  Kirill watches the act from the doorway.

During the act, the viewer hears Tatiana’s voice in voice-over talking about her excitement about going to London because a friend has told her of an opportunity to get paid to sing in a restaurant. In a previous scene, Anna’s Uncle Stepan told Anna that the diary revealed that Tatiana was a drug-user & prostitute, so the monologue the viewer hears about her dreams of becoming a singer are all the more tragic played over this scene.

Nikolai reaches climax and both he & the woman lean over. Kirill applauds.

Kirill:   Very nice.  You did it very nice.

Nikolai:          [panting, looks up at Kirill]  Yeah?  Really?  [in Russian with English subtitles]  Thank you, brother.  [the woman is leaning over with her head buried in the bed; Nikolai is still pressed up against her]  So, if my examination is over, get the fuck out of here while I get dressed.

Nikolai raises himself up and smacks the woman’s side. Kirill leaves the doorway.  Nikolai pants.  The young woman is now lying on her side, singing quietly to herself.  She is still naked, but her arms & legs are positioned such that one cannot see her breasts or genitals.

Nikolai asks the woman what her last name is and where she is from. She is somewhat despondent, but says her last name is Kirilenko and she is from a village near Kiev, Ukraine.  Nikolai gives her a large amount of money and tells her “Stay alive a little longer”.  He also leaves her a Russian prayer card, a gold card with a red-robed figure on it.  Nikolai leaves.


The viewer at first hears Tatiana’s voice describing her experience with Semyon’s family, but then it changes to Uncle Stepan’s voice as we see Anna’s mother & uncle working to translate the diary:

I was thrown down the stairs and fell onto some sacks. Potato sacks.  Kirill came down after me.  He hit me until I was bleeding.  Then he tried to rape me, but he couldn’t do it.  He just got madder and madder and kept hitting me.  In the end, his father came down.  It was the father who raped me.  He shouted at his son, “If you don’t break a horse, it will never be tamed, Kirill.”


Uncle Stepan and her mother warn Anna not to get involved with the Russians. Stepan comments about when he worked for the KGB.

Anna: You’ve never worked for the fucking KGB!


Kirill shows Nikolai he has boxes of wine bottles in the back of the van.

Kirill:   From France.  Old as fuck.


Kirill is sitting in the back of the van drinking wine with the two back doors open. Semyon pushes one of the doors closed on Kirill, startling him.  Semyon angrily tells Kirill that Soyka is dead.  Kirill says he had nothing to do with it.  Semyon tells Kirill not to lie to him.  Semyon grabs Kirill by the shirt, as Kirill insists he is telling the truth.  Semyon smacks Kirill across the face, shouting “I said don’t lie to me!”Semyon lets Kirill go when Nikolai steps between them.  Kirill’s nose is bleeding.  Nikolai tells Semyon that Kirill paid Azim’s nephew to slit Soyka’s throat.

Kirill:   [in Russian with English subtitles]  Shut your fucking mouth!

Nikolai continues to tell Semyon the truth about Soyka’s murder, that Kirill ordered the hit because Soyka was spreading lies about Kirill. Nikolai also suggests Soyka was giving the police information.


Uncle Stepan spits in Nikolai’s face & says “motherfucker” to him in Russian with English subtitles.


Nikolai is reading Tatiana’s diary which Anna gave him. The viewer hears Tatiana’s voice in voice-over saying she wishes she could throw herself out a window but the windows won’t open.  She also says that they inject her every day with heroin.


Ekrem is walking home from the soccer match in a crowd of people, cutting through a graveyard. He separates himself from the group to urinate on a headstone.  As he is urinating, two large men in leather jackets come up behind him.  One grabs him while the other slits his throat.  One says in Russian (with English subtitles) “For my brother ...” and they walk away.  The viewer understands they are Soyka’s brothers, whom Semyon warned Nikolai & Kirill about when he admonished Kirill for having had Soyka killed.


Anna is standing outside the Trans-Siberian Restaurant at night. Nikolai & Kirill pull up in their car and ask her what she is doing there, to which she responds she was just passing.  She is sarcastically repeating what Nikolai said to her when he returned her motorcycle in a previous scene.

Kirill:   If you’re passing, just pass.  Keep on going, bitch.


Anna: Tell Semyon the baby I delivered last Sunday is his daughter.

Kirill:   [in Russian with English subtitles]  What did she say?

Nikolai:          [in Russian with English subtitles] I don’t know.

Anna: When he raped her she was a virgin.  Then they gave her pills.  He has to be the father.

Kirill angrily moves towards Anna, but Nikolai holds him back. Kirill breaks free of Nikolai’s grip and grabs Anna, pushing her up against their car and holding her neck & chin.

Kirill:   [in Russian with English subtitles] Shut up, bitch!

Nikolai:          [in Russian with English subtitles] Kirill!  Fuck her, Kirill!  [Nikolai pulls Kirill off of Anna]  Forget her.

Anna: She was fourteen!  She was just a child!

Kirill goes toward Anna again, but Nikolai stands between them.

Kirill:   [pointing finger at Anna]  You pronounced the name of my father.

Patrons exit the restaurant, so Kirill stops talking. Nikolai pats Kirill’s chest, trying to get him to move away.

Kirill:   [to Anna] You stop talking shit about him.  [to Nikolai] You don’t look at her anymore.  [in Russian with English subtitle]  That’s an order.

Kirill enters the restaurant and Nikolai goes to follow him when Anna speaks again.

Anna: Tell him what I said.

Nikolai:          Tell him what?  There is nothing to tell.  Slaves give birth to slaves.

Anna: Tell him what I said.

The scene switches to Kirill & Nikolai entering the restaurant kitchen.

Kirill:   Yes, you know, the girl you fucked the other day in front of me.  The Ukrainian bitch.

Nikolai:          Ukrainian girl?

Kirill:   Anyway, so, the police arrive.  So ordinary, fucking police.  They just, bah, kick down the door and ask for her by name.  Then they just take her away.  Like some fucking punter might have given them her name or something.  What gives the right of the police to take our women?  Huh?

Nikolai:          [in Russian with English subtitle] I don’t know.

Kirill:   “I don’t know”.  Fuck police.


Kirill is in the restaurant cellar, drinking alcohol from a bottle. Nikolai comes down.

Kirill:   [holds up bottle] My dad swapped a little girl from Georgia for this shit.

They talk a bit more. Nikolai informs Kirill that Semyon offered him stars, meaning a stars tattoo which symbolizes Nikolai’s increasing ranks within the vory.

Kirill:   You think I didn’t know already.  He told me before.  It was my fucking idea.

Kirill gets angry at Nikolai because Kirill has the impression that Nikolai thinks he knows more than Kirill.

Kirill:   Stars are fucking birthmark for me! [he pulls his shirt off his shoulder to reveal his own stars tattoo]

Nikolai & Kirill exchange a few more words and then Nikolai goes to leave the cellar.

Kirill:   Where the fuck do you think you’re going?  We’ve got to celebrate.  Come here.


Other members of the vory have come to interview Nikolai before giving him his tattoos and increasing his rank.  They ask about his personal history and Nikolai tells them his father worked for the government.  The entire conversation is in Russian with English subtitles

vory member#1:     Your father was a bitch and a weak fucker for working for the Government.  Right?

Nikolai:          That’s right.  He means nothing to me.  My mother ...

vory member#2:     You have no mother.  She was a whore anyway.

Nikolai:          Yes.


Soyka’s two Chechen brothers want revenge on Kirill for Soyka’s murder. In a previous scene, Azim made a deal with Semyon that he will deliver Nikolai to them, pretending that Nikolai is Kirill.

Nikolai & Azim meet at a bath house and go into a steamroom together. Azim tells Nikolai that their supply lines to Kabul are broken every few weeks.  Nikolai asks why.

Azim:  The Americans.  Fucking NATO.

Azim tells Nikolai he has to go to bathroom and will be back soon. Azim leaves.  The viewer sees Azim nervously putting his clothes back on in the changeroom.  The two Chechen thugs in leather jackets come in and sit on the bench beside him.  Azim tells them “Kirill is in there” and they will see star tattoos on his chest.


Nikolai is naked throughout this fight scene. The viewer catches glimpses of his genitals here & there.  Chechen thug #1 approaches Nikolai who has removed his towel and is sitting naked on a bench in the steamroom.  Thug #1 pulls out a large, curved blade and Nikolai looks up.  Nikolai blocks the man’s arm from swinging at him with the blade, gets up and shoves Thug #1 into the wall.  Thug #1 slices Nikolai across his front torso; Nikolai grunts in pain.  Nikolai punches Thug #1 who falls to the floor.  Nikolai clutches his own abdominal area in pain and crawls slightly away from Thug #1 on the floor, but Thug #2 is standing there and pulls Nikolai up by his hair only to subsequently punch Nikolai to the ground.

Thug #1 looks at blood on his own hands from holding his cut face. Nikolai is crawling on the floor of the steamroom and Thug #2 kicks him in the gut.  Nikolai cries out in pain, rolls over onto his back and the viewer sees blood on his torso.

Thug #1 gets up and Thug #2 asks him if he’s okay. Thug #1 says “Finish him off”.  Thug #2 pulls out a large knife and approaches Nikolai who is lying on his back on the floor.  Nikolai manages to kick Thug #2’s legs out from under him, but Thug #2 swings at Nikolai with his blade.  Nikolai punches Thug #2 in the face.  Thug #2 is on the floor holding his blade up, but Nikolai manages to get on top of him and choke him and put his fingers in Thug #2’s eyes.  Thug #2 punches Nikolai in the face and Thug #1 comes up and slices Nikolai on the back with a blade.  Nikolai & Thug #1 struggle over the blade.  Nikolai manages to grab Thug #1’s wrist and move Thug #1’s arm so Thug #1 plunges his blade into Thug #2 who is lying on floor.  Thug #1 elbows Nikolai in the face, throwing him backwards.  Thug #2 is seen with the blade plunged into him and crying in pain.

Thug #1 picks Nikolai up off the floor and throws Nikolai over the steamroom bench so Nikolai lands on the hard tile floor. Nikolai is visibly covered in blood.  There are two other male patrons in this section of the steamroom.  Thug #1 takes the curved blade out of Thug #2’s hand and comes at Nikolai, who ducks behind Patron #1 in the steamroom.  Patron #1 jumps out of way as Thug #1 comes at them.  Thug #1 slices at Nikolai’s torso.  Patron #2 shimmies himself away from them on bench.  Thug #1 keeps swinging at Nikolai with the blade, but Nikolai manages to duck.  Patron #1 hurries away.

Thug #1 slices Nikolai’s arm. Nikolai’s full frontal nudity is particularly visible as he kicks Thug #1 into the wall.  Nikolai continues to kick & punch at Thug #1 as the viewer sees Nikolai’s back covered in blood.  Nikolai gets on top of Thug #1 on the bench, but then Thug #1 repeatedly punches Nikolai in the stomach.  Nikolai throws a punch to Thug #1, causing Thug #1 to fall to the ground. Nikolai strangles Thug #1, but Thug #1 manages to punch Nikolai and grab his throat.  Nikolai grabs Thug #1’s hair and manages to reach for the curved, bloody blade which has fallen on the floor in the struggle.  Thug #1 still has one hand around Nikolai’s throat, but Nikolai manages to push Thug #1’s neck onto the blade and to put his hand over Thug #1’s face.  Thug #1 struggles for a moment, but Nikolai pushes him down harder onto the blade until he dies.  The viewer sees Nikolai on top of Thug #1 with his back covered in blood.

Nikolai wriggles off of Thug #1’s now-dead body, grunting in pain. He puts his bloody hand on the bench to help himself up onto the low wall of the steamroom and then rolls over to land beside Thug #2’s body which has a blade sticking out of the chest and blood seeping from the wound.  The viewer assumes Thug #2 is dead, but as Nikolai crawls over him, Thug #2 grabs Nikolai’s neck, chokes Nikolai, pulls the blade out of his own chest and attempts to stab Nikolai with it, but Nikolai manages to block the blow with his arm and contort Thug #2 into a painful position, seemingly breaking Thug #2’s arm or ribs.  Nikolai strikes Thug #2 and then stabs Thug #2 in the eye with the blade; blood pours out.

The next scene is Nikolai being wheeled on a gurney with blood covering his torso and a red blanket covering his lower half. There is an oxygen mask on his face.


Yuri came to see Semyon after the information he got from Nikolai (in a previous scene, the viewer learned that Nikolai is actually an undercover FSB agent). After the police’s visit, Semyon comes into the kitchen where Kirill is.  Kirill asks Semyon what the police wanted.

Semyon:        To poison me.  They took blood from me with a needle.  Probably the same needle that they use for the junkies and whores and blacks and queers.  Now I probably have the fucking queer disease.


Kirill has kidnapped the baby from the hospital. He has her in a black duffel bag and has driven to the same place he & Nikolai dumped Soyka’s body by the river.  Kirill is sitting by the river with the baby in the bag  Kirill is crying and asking the baby to forgive him.  He kisses the baby and stands up to throw her in, but he stops and cries “She’s just a little girl!  She just a little fucking devotshka, Papa!”Anna & Nikolai arrive on her motorcycle and convince Kirill not to kill the baby.  After they hand the baby to Anna, Nikolai suggests to Kirill that they go home.

Kirill:   We’re missing the fucking party of the year!  Happy New Year!

Appendix B

The Complaint

The CBSC received the following complaint on June 11, 2016:

Station Name: GameTV

Program Name: Eastern Promises (Film)

Date: 2016/06/09

Time: 7:00 pm PT

Specific Concern: GameTV broadcast the film Eastern Promises at 7:00 pm PT (cable provider = SHAW).  This film includes a very lengthy, explicit scene in which a completely naked man fights another man.  The naked man’s buttocks and genitals are visible throughout the fight scene from many different angles.  GameTV warned that the film contains violence, but did not warn about the very explicit/gratuitous nudity.  Although I saw this scene at 7:00 pm PT, GameTV’s own schedule shows that the film was broadcast even earlier in the day.

Broadcaster Response

GameTV responded to the complainant on June 29:

Thank you for contacting GameTV directly and through the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council regarding the broadcast of the film Eastern Promises (the “Film”) by GameTV on June 9, 2016.  I am the General Counsel of GameTV and am ultimately responsible for the matters raised in your complaint.  As such, I have thoroughly investigated your complaint and confirm that the Film included nudity and that the advisory that was broadcast in advance of each segment of the Film did not refer to nudity.  I, personally and on behalf of GameTV, sincerely apologize to you and to our other viewers for this error.

GameTV takes its viewers’ concerns, along with its responsibility to address the issue of mature subject matter, violence, nudity, sexually explicit material and coarse or offensive language on television, very seriously. In accordance with the principles of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Violence Code (the “Code”), to which we adhere, we believe that viewers should be fully informed about the content of programming they choose to watch.  In order to comply with the Code, GameTV has developed and implemented internal guidelines concerning the broadcast of programming that includes mature subject matter or scenes with violence, nudity, sexually explicit material and coarse or offensive language, as well as the selection and use of appropriate viewer advisories.

The advisory that should have been used in connection with the Film should have referred to nudity. As soon as we received your complaint, GameTV adjusted the advisory for the next airing of the Film to include nudity.  Furthermore, we have reviewed our internal guidelines as a result of your complaint and have recirculated them to employees who are involved in the process of selecting, editing and scheduling our broadcasts.

In addition to adjusting the advisory, GameTV reviewed, re-edited and replaced the Film in advance of its next airing. We specifically focused on those areas of concern that you raised in your complaint, but we also reviewed the entire Film.  GameTV submitted the re-edited Film to its third party master control operator and confirmed that the prior version would not be broadcast again.

Once again, Mr. [G.], GameTV and I are sincerely sorry for missing the content described in your complaint and for broadcasting an improper advisory. We thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.  As soon as we became informed of this error, we strove to correct it as soon as possible in order to prevent it from happening again.  We have also met numerous times with the individuals involved in selecting, editing and scheduling our broadcasts and have implemented additional internal procedures to ensure it doesn’t happen again with any of our other films.

I hope that this letter addresses your concerns and that you will continue to watch GameTV. I would be pleased to continue to correspond with you concerning this matter at your convenience.

Additional Correspondence

The complainant wrote back to GameTV on July 4, indicating that he wanted the CBSC to pursue the matter.

Thank you for taking time to respond to my complaint.

Unfortunately, I find it hard to believe that GameTV “missed the content” when one considers that the film in question is well known for that scene – just as much as Basic Instinct was known for Sharon Stone flashing her genitals for about one second.  Am I to believe that GameTV staff were completely unaware of the very lengthy graphic male nudity scene when they selected that film for broadcast?  How did they know it contained violence?

Furthermore, this is not just about broadcasting a comprehensive advisory; it also concerns GameTV’s choice to broadcast such a film unedited at 5:00 pm PT. If the nudity was a few a seconds of breasts/buttocks I would accept your apology and move on, but the scene in question was lengthy, extremely graphic and gratuitous (did the camera really need to be placed on the ground to look up at the naked man’s buttocks and genitals from behind while his legs were partially spread?)

It is fine that you have recirculated your “internal guidelines”, but will this really help? Where was the common sense to begin with?

Your channel has a history of broadcasting objectionable content. For example, in the past, you broadcast the Jackass films which contain male nudity throughout in scenes where young men perform indignities to their, or their co-stars’, body parts.  Etc, etc…

It seems that your staff wants to broadcast films that provoke – well, provocation accomplished.

Again, I thank you for complying with CBSC’s request to respond to my complaint. Unfortunately, I do wish to proceed and will be requesting a ruling from the CBSC.

My reasons for not giving your staff a “free pass” are, in point form:

- I find it doubtful that your staff did not know about the scene, as you seem to suggest. In fact, your website showed a photo of that exact scene.

- The scene in question did not contain minor, fleeting nudity, but was very lengthy, graphic and gratuitous.

- You have a history of broadcasting objectionable content.

- You broadcast the film very early in the day (are there still watershed hours??).

- You have a history of broadcasting objectionable content early in the day.

- You are injecting very adult content alongside very wholesome entertainment. In my opinion, no reasonable person would expect to see such content on a “GameTV” channel.  Such films could reasonably be expected on channels like IFC and Sundance.

- Your channel is bundled by at least one of Canada’s largest cable providers in their lowest tier (excluding the new “skinny” packages). Bundled channels should be held to higher standards than the specialty channels which are not forced upon Canadians.