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Moscow Court Rejects House Arrest For Ailing Theater Director

Former Gogol Center director Aleksei Malobrodsky attends a court hearing in Moscow on May 10.
Former Gogol Center director Aleksei Malobrodsky attends a court hearing in Moscow on May 10.

MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has rejected a request by investigators to transfer to house arrest a former director of Moscow's embattled Gogol Center theater, who is charged with embezzlement and fraud in a case that has sent a chill through Russian culture.

The Basmanny district court on May 10 again rejected a request from Russia’s Investigative Committee to transfer Aleksei Malobrodsky 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 was in the courtroom on May 10, but was rushed out after falling ill. Doctors said Malobrodsky was suffering from heart problems and needed immediate hospital care.

Malobrodsky, 60, who also used to lead the Seventh Studio theater group at the theater, 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 in 2011-14 for a specific project. He has since been put under house arrest.

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

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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