Russia: Theatre director sentenced to three years’ probation on charges of embezzlement

30 June 2020
Russian theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov will spend another birthday under house arrest, more than a year after he was charged with embezzlement.
Photo: Kirill Serebrennikov/Gogol Center Facebook page


30 June 2020

UPDATE: Theatre director sentenced to three years’ probation on charges of embezzlement

On 26 June 2020, a Moscow court has sentenced theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov to three years’ probation on charges of embezzlement, reported The Guardian 

Serebrennikov was found guilty of “forming a criminal syndicate” and given a suspended sentence, meaning that he was freed and that a three-year legal process was closedThe court decided, however, that Serebrennikov must repay 129 million Russian rubles (1.6 million euros). This amount of money is associated with grants received by the theatre from the government.  

According to Deadline, two other theatre employees, Alexey Malobrodsky, and Yury Itin were also given suspended two-year sentences for their participation in the fraud. Additionally, the former culture ministry official Sofia Apfelbaum was found guilty of negligence and fined 100,000 Russian rubles (around 1,255 euros). 

Freemuse’s State of Artistic Freedom 2020 report highlights that more than 60 percent of violations of artistic freedom Freemuse documented in Russia in 2019 were committed by the government. What is more,  Freemuse discovered that theatre was the most targeted art form in Russia in 2019. 

Read more updates below. 


16 September 2019

UPDATE: Theatre director’s case is sent back to prosecutors

The case against Russian theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov has been sent back to prosecutors, according to Radio Free Europe. According to the publication, the case was deemed to contain “inconsistent and controversial clauses”. Judge Irina Akkuratova further ruled that the artist’s travel ban be lifted. 

This latest update marks a continuation of positive developments in the embezzlement case against Serebrennikov. Read the previous updates below. 


10 April 2019

UPDATE: Theatre director released from house arrest

The Russian theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov has been released from house arrest after 20 months of detention.

On 8 April 2019 a Moscow city court judge overturned a decision by a lower tribunal to extend Kirill Serebrennikov’s arrest for three months, The Guardian reported. Serebrennikov will now be able to work as long as he stays in Moscow.

Serebrennikov remains accused of defrauding the Russian state but continues to affirm his innocence.


7 September 2019

Russia: Theatre director marks another birthday in home detention

Prominent Russian theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov turns 49 today7 September 2018. It’s the second birthday he’s spent under house arrest.

Serebrennikov was arrested in St Petersburg in August 2017 and charged with embezzling 133m roubles (1,819,370 euros) in state funds allocated for art and cultural events. He was initially placed under house arrest until October 2017, but the order has repeatedly been extended. On 16 August 2018, the Moscow City Court extended his house arrest until 19 September, according to the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI).

Since Serebrennikov’s arrest, many of his assets including an apartment, car and money have been seized by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court, according to RAPSI.

Serebrennikov has denied any wrongdoing and his supporters say the case is politically motivated. After becoming the theatre director of The Gogol Center in 2012, Serebrennikov was among a handful of directors called in for questioning by Moscow’s city government in 2015 over the moral content of presented works.

In 2016, 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.

Freemuse continues to call for an impartial, independent investigation into Serebrennikov’s case.

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