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Moscow Court Upholds Acclaimed Director Serebrennikov's House Arrest


Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov

A Russian court has rejected director Kirill Serebrennikov's bid for release on bail but slightly softened the conditions of his house arrest.

The Moscow City Court issued the ruling on September 4.

Serebrennikov was detained on August 22 and could be sentenced to 10 years in prison if tried and convicted on fraud charges he has dismissed as unfounded and absurd.

Some 1,300 young artists and other cultural figures have signed a petition in support of Serebrennikov, who investigators accuse of embezzling at least 68 million rubles ($1.1 million) in state arts funding.

A lawyer for Serebrennikov, Dmitry Kharitonov, asked the court to release him on bail of that exact amount: 68 million rubles.

The court ruled that Serebrennikov will remain under house arrest but will be allowed to leave his apartment to take a walk daily from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Serebrennikov, 47, is artistic director of the Gogol Center theater in Moscow and founded a dramatic collective called Seventh Studio.

He has participated in antigovernment protests and voiced concern about the increasing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in cultural matters.

Dozens of prominent Russian artists have submitted character-witness testaments to the court in support of Serebrennikov.

Kremlin critics say his prosecution is part of a crackdown on dissent ahead of a March 2018 election in which President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to seek and secure a new term.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service, Interfax, and Dozhd
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