The Russian director Serebrennikov convicted of fraud

Le réalisateur russe Serebrennikov reconnu coupable de fraude

Le réalisateur russe Serebrennikov reconnu coupable de fraude

Kirill Serebrennikov waiting for the verdict in his trial on Friday.

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June 26, 2020 9h38

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The Russian director Serebrennikov convicted of fraud

Maria Panina

Agence France-Presse

MOSCOW — The producer and stage director Kirill Serebrennikov, a figure celebrated in the arts community in Russian, was found guilty Friday of fraud for personal enrichment by a court in moscow in a case controversial.

This folder, which began three years ago, has been considered by the advocates of the developer as a test of artistic freedom in Russia.

On his arrival at court Mechtchanski Moscow, Serebrennikov has been welcomed by the applause of hundreds of his supporters, kept at a distance from the building by metal barriers.

“Serebrennikov (and his co-defendants), (Yuri) Itine, (Konstantin) Malobrodski have committed fraud, ( … ), with a magnitude of a particularly important”, said the judge Olessya Mendeleïeva without immediately announce the sentences, the reading of the judgement that may take several hours.

The public prosecutor has requested six years in prison for the artist, who has always denied the charges against him.

Le réalisateur russe Serebrennikov reconnu coupable de fraude

On his arrival at court Mechtchanski Moscow, Serebrennikov has been welcomed by the applause of hundreds of his supporters, kept at a distance from the building by metal barriers.

Photo AFP, Alexander Nemenov

“Their actions have been committed for purposes of personal enrichment in bilking them the employees of the ministry of Culture,” added the court.

A fourth accused, Sofia Apfelbaum, was “not aware” of the fraud, but the judge accuses him of “negligence”.

Kirill Serebrennikov, 50 years, has welcomed this judgment in the stillness and the silence, wearing a hoodie and a baseball cap, a black and donning a mask, sanitary black, due to the new coronavirus.

Artistic director of the Centre, Gogol, a famous theatre in moscow, he is being prosecuted for embezzling between 2011 and 2014, about 129 million rubles (1.65 million euro at the current rate) of public subsidies.

The judge was also of the view that the accused acted in organised and that Mr. Serebrennikov had “directed all members of the group and took measures to conceal the theft.

The prosecutor has requested sentences ranging from four to six years in prison. The defence asked for the acquittal.

Political retaliation

Arrested in August 2017 on the shooting in St.-Petersburg (north-west) of his film, Leto (summer), Serebrennikov had been taken to Moscow, and then under house arrest until April 2019.

Number of cultural figures and Russian and foreign have expressed their support, believing that his art is in contradiction with the conservatism of the Russian authorities was able to make him enemies on the origin of his setbacks.

During his residency, he completed the assembly of Leto, a movie on the life of rocker soviet Viktor Tsoï award-winning in 2018 at Cannes. It also has remote mounted an opera in Germany.

In September 2019, the justice of the Russian federation had awarded the artist-in-freedom, and returned the file to the public prosecutor, considering it as incomplete. But a new expert has concluded in early June that the director and his team had received an overpayment of approximately $ 129 million of rubles of state aid, taking the opposite of expertise previous.

“In this case, there is no evidence of unseemly behavior on my part,” said Kirill Serebrennikov Monday, accusing investigators of having “pressure” the main witness of the prosecution, the former accountant of the Seventh studio — a troupe that he founded.

To his supporters, he pays for his freedom of creation and its parts, sometimes daring, mixing politics, sex and religion, in a country where the authorities are pushing for a return in force of the “traditional values” conservative.

“The willingness of the State to the charge (…) seems to be a way to thinly veiled retaliation against the critical policies of Serebrennikov and to send a chilling message to artists who do not have other choice than give up the critical policies for the benefit of public funds”, have denounced several international organisations, including Human Rights Watch, in a press release.

The stagings presented in the Center of Gogol, as it has transformed into a must-see place in the current theatre scene in Moscow, have sometimes been criticized by activists of the orthodox church.

The authorities deny this interpretation of the facts.

About 3000 personalities of culture have called a Monday in a petition to the ministry of Culture to drop charges, citing a “case that has been fabricated” by the investigators.

France was awarded the Order of Arts and Letters in 2018.

Le Soleil

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