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France Bestows State Award To Russian Director Charged With Embezzlement

Kirill Serebrennikov attends hearings in a court in Moscow on July 9
Kirill Serebrennikov attends hearings in a court in Moscow on July 9

France has awarded detained Russian theater and film director Kirill Serebrennikov the Order of Arts and Letters.

Serebrennikov is under house arrest awaiting trial on embezzlement charges that his supporters say are politically motivated.

French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen on August 2 signed a decree awarding Serebrennikov with the order, which is given in recognition of significant contributions to the arts and literature in France and the world, French media reported.

Serebrennikov, who is the director of Moscow's famed Gogol Theater and has staged productions at the Bolshoi Theater, was detained in August 2017 and accused of embezzling the equivalent of some $1 million in state funds.

His case has drawn international attention and prompted accusations that Russian authorities are targeting cultural figures who are at odds with President Vladimir Putin's government.

Serebrennikov had taken part in antigovernment protests and voiced concern about the increasing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has close ties to the state.

He has called the charges against him “absurd.”

With reporting by Le Figaro and RFI
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