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Moscow Theater Director Released From Custody After Hospitalization

Aleksei Malobrodsky attends a court hearing in Moscow on May 10.

Russian investigators have decided to free the hospitalized former director of Moscow's embattled Gogol Center theater from pretrial detention.

Aleksei Malobrodsky is charged with embezzlement and fraud in a case that has sent a chill through Russian culture.

The Investigative Committee said late on May 14 that the custody measure against Malobrodsky would be changed from pretrial detention to an obligation to remain in Moscow until his trial.

Handcuffs were removed from Malobrodsky's wrists in the hospital after the decision was announced.

It came four days after Malobrodsky was rushed to the hospital from a Moscow court that rejected a request from the Investigative Committee to transfer him from a detention center to house arrest due to "his age, health state, and other reasons."

The Prosecutor-General's Office protested the Investigative Committee's request after it was initially filed on April 25.

Malobrodsky, 60, who also used to lead the Seventh Studio theater group at Gogol Center, was arrested in June 2017 -- about a month after Seventh Studio bookkeeper Nina Maslyayeva and former director Yury Itin were arrested.

Maslyayeva and Itin are also now under house arrest, as is prominent Gogol Center artistic director Kirill Serebrennikov.

Initially a witness in the case, Serebrennikov was charged in August 2017 with organizing the embezzlement of 68 million rubles ($1.1 million) allocated to Seventh Studio from 2011-14 for a specific project.

Serebrennikov had taken part in antigovernment protests and voiced concern about the increasing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Directors and actors in Russia and elsewhere, including ballet great Mikhail Baryshnikov, have expressed concern over the situation faced by the Gogol Center and have called for a transparent investigation.

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