Freemuse is concerned about the recent trial and house arrest of prominent Russian theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov over charges of alleged embezzlement of state funds earmarked for an art project. The director, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government, has often rubbed authorities the wrong way with his political performances.
“Everybody is entitled to the freedom of artistic expression and creativity, Mr Serebrennikov included. We ask the Russian authority to respect and protect this right and ensure that this investigation is not a clampdown on artist communities,” Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat said.
Serebrennikov became the theatre director of The Gogol Center in 2012 and was among a handful of directors called in for questioning by Moscow’s city government in 2015 regarding the moral content of the works presented after accusations that they were in violation of censorship laws.
Last year, Russia’s Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky stated that shows funded by the state “should not create schisms in society”. Serebrennikov’s theatre relied on state funds in 2012 to renovate the space. City investigators at the time checked the renovations in detail to ensure funds were used properly and took the liberty to suggest what play the new centre should premiere for its grand opening.
In 2016, Freemuse registered ten serious violations of artistic freedom of expression in Russia, including the persecution of or threat to four artists, prosecution of three artists, attack on two artists or artistic venues and one artist behind bars. Russia also carried out 16 acts of censorship, for a total of 26 violations on artistic freedom of expression in 2016.
For more on the Serebrennikov case and the suppression of freedom of expression in Russia read here: