Russian Theater Director Placed Under House Arrest Ahead of Fraud Trial

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A Moscow judge on August 23 ordered the Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, charged with fraud, to be placed under house arrest until October 19. Crowds of supporters gathered at the court, with many calling for the director to be freed.

Members of the country’s artistic and cultural elite and supporters of the director say the charges are part of Kremlin efforts to crack down on dissent and artistic freedom, according to The Moscow Times newspaper.

Serebrennikov, 47, art director at the state-funded Gogol Center and a critic of the government, pleaded not guilty to embezzling 68 million roubles ($1.15 million, €975,000), telling the court the charges against him were “incredibly absurd,” according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Russia’s investigative committee accused Serebrennikov of inflating costs relating to “The Seventh Studio” project he founded in order to steal budgetary funds. He faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

According to Russia’s state-run news agency Interfax, the court forbade Serebrennikov from using the internet, using fixed or mobile telephones, sending or receiving telegrams. The agency also quoted Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky describing the situation as “sad” and “regrettable,” adding that it “does not bring us any joy.” Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via Storyful