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Russian Director Serebrennikov's Embezzlement Trial Relaunched

Kirill Serebrennikov attends a court hearing in Moscow on November 1.

MOSCOW -- A Moscow court has relaunched an embezzlement case against Russian film and theater director Kirill Serebrennikov and his co-defendants.

The Meshchansky District Court started preliminary hearings into the case on November 1.

The decision to relaunch the trial was made on October 16 after the Moscow City Court and the Supreme Court overturned a September 11 decision by the Meshchansky Court that the case should be sent back to prosecutors due to "inconsistent and controversial clauses" in the text of the official charges.

The 50-year-old Serebrennikov and three co-defendants are accused of embezzling up to 133 million rubles ($2 million) in state funds that were granted from 2011 to 2014 to Seventh Studio, a nonprofit organization established by Serebrennikov.

Serebrennikov has taken part in anti-government protests and voiced concern about the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. He has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the charges against him as "absurd."

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.

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, was also barred from leaving Moscow.