Russia extends house arrest for theatre director Serebrennikov

Moscow (AFP) –


Russian theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov will not be able to attend the Cannes Film Festival next month, where one of his films is competing for the prestigious Palme d'Or prize, after a Moscow court on Wednesday extended his house arrest.

"The house arrest will be extended until July 19, 2018," judge Artur Karpov was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

Serebrennikov, creative director of the Gogol Centre theatre in Moscow who has also staged productions at the Bolshoi theatre, has been under house arrest since last August after being charged with defrauding the state of 68 million rubles ($1.15 million, 977,000 euros) in funding for a theatrical project.

He denies any guilt and has dismissed the charges as "absurd", but could face a decade in jail.

Serebrennikov has been invited to the Cannes Film Festival in May, where his film "Leto" is in the running for Palme d'Or.

His film "The Student" won a prize in Cannes in 2016.

A string of top artists from both inside and outside Russia have openly come out in support of Serebrennikov and called for him to be freed.

The director was unable to attend the premiere of his ballet, "Nureyev", which traces the life and Aids-related death of Soviet dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev, at the Bolshoi in December.

Never overtly opposed to President Vladimir Putin, Serebrennikov's work, and its exploration of themes of politics, religion and sexuality, has regularly put him at loggerheads with religious and conservative circles in Russia.