The Prosecutor has asked a Moscow court to sentence director Kirill Serebrennikov to six years in prison on embezzlement charges he denies. At a hearing in Moscow, the prosecutor’s office also demanded a fine of 800,000 roubles (€ 10,200), according to an AFP journalist present at the court. Sentences ranging from four to five years in prison were also sought against three of Serebrennikov’s collaborators.

Kirill Serebrennikov, 50, a leading figure in the Russian art, world is accused of embezzling around 128 million roubles (€ 1.64 million) of state subsidies between 2011 and 2014.

Arrested in August 2017, he was under house arrest until April 2019. In September 2019, « all preventive measures » against him and his three accused collaborators were lifted, then sent the case back to the prosecutor’s office, considering it incomplete.

A third expert report finally concluded at the beginning of June that the director and his team had received an overpayment of 128 million rubles in public aid for a project by Mr Serebrennikov’s Studio 7. This was the opposite of a previous expert opinion which had undermined the accusation.

Kirill Serebrennikov, artistic director of the Gogol Centre, a famous Moscow theatre, has always denied the charges against him. On Monday, his lawyer pleaded acquittal for his client.

The court will hand down its verdict on 26 June, according to Russian news agencies.

For many observers, Kirill Serebrennikov is paying for his creative ideas, mixing politics, sexuality and religion, in a country where the authorities, under pressure of the Church, are pushing for a strong return to « traditional values ». Some 3,000 cultural figures on Monday called on the culture ministry to drop the charges, denouncing a « case that has been fabricated » by investigators.


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