Accessibility links

Breaking News

Fraud Trial Of Russian Director Adjourned After Co-Defendant's Hospitalization


Kirill Serebrennikov arrives at a court for hearings in Moscow on December 3

MOSCOW -- The embezzlement trial of Russian theater and film director Kirill Serebrennikov has been adjourned for five days due to the hospitalization of a co-defendant in the case.

Judge Yelena Akkuratova adjourned the Moscow trial until December 10 after the lawyer for the former director of Moscow's Gogol Center, Aleksei Malobrodsky, announced at a December 5 hearing that Malobrodsky had been hospitalized with a "serious" heart condition.

The high-profile trial began on November 7.

Serebrennikov's August 2017 arrest drew international attention and prompted accusations that Russian authorities were targeting cultural figures who are at odds with President Vladimir Putin's government.

The acclaimed 49-year-old director initially was charged with organizing the embezzlement of 68 million rubles, or about $1 million, in state funds granted from 2011-14 to Seventh Studio, a nonprofit organization that Serebrennikov established.

In January 2018, prosecutors raised the amount Serebrennikov and his three co-defendants are accused of embezzling to 133 million rubles, or about $2 million.

All four defendants -- Serebrennikov, producers Malobrodsky and Yury Itin, and former Culture Ministry employee Sofia Apfelbaum, have pleaded not guilty.

Serebrennikov has called the trial "absurd."

A fifth person charged in the case, accountant Nina Maslyayeva, pleaded guilty and has provided testimony used as evidence against the defendants.

Maslyayeva is to be tried separately.

Serebrennikov's supporters say the case was part of a politically motivated crackdown on the arts community ahead of Russia's March 2018 presidential election in which Putin, a longtime Soviet KGB officer who has been president or prime minister since 1999, won a fourth term in office.

Serebrennikov previously had taken part in antigovernment protests and voiced concerns about the increasing influence in Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose ties with the state have increased under Putin.

  • 16x9 Image

    RFE/RL's Russian Service

    RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda is the leading international broadcaster in Russia. As Russia witnesses increasing control of the media by state authorities, Radio Svoboda has become a key forum for those who lack access to other means of free expression.

XS
SM
MD
LG