A Moscow court will relaunch the controversial embezzlement case against Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov and his co-defendants early next month, a lawyer for one of the defendants says.
State-run news agency TASS on October 22 quoted the unidentified lawyer as saying a preliminary hearing will be held on November 1 at 10 a.m. in Moscow’s Meshchansky district court.
Serebrennikov, 50, and three co-defendants are accused of embezzling up to 133 million rubles ($2 million) in state funds granted from 2011 to 2014 to Seventh Studio, a nonprofit organization established by Serebrennikov.
Serebrennikov, who has taken part in anti-government protests and voiced concern about the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the charges against him as absurd.
In September, Meshchansky court Judge Irina Akkuratova sent the case against Serebrennikov and his associates back to prosecutors, citing inconsistency in the accusation papers.
On October 8, the Moscow City Court overturned that ruling and ordered the Meshchansky court to relaunch the case.
Serebrennikov's August 2017 arrest drew international attention and prompted accusations that Russian authorities were targeting cultural figures who were at odds with President Vladimir Putin's government.
Serebrennikov and two co-defendants -- producer Yury Itin and former Culture Ministry employee Sofia Apfelbaum -- were released from house arrest under an April 8 court decision, but ordered to remain in Moscow.
The other defendant, Aleksei Malobrodsky, who was not under house arrest, was also barred from leaving Moscow.
Earlier this month, France honored Serebrennikov by naming him a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, which is granted in recognition of significant contributions to the arts.
Serebrennikov received the distinction in a ceremony at the residence of the French ambassador to Russia, Sylvie Bermann, on October 14.