Russian court finds acclaimed director Serebrennikov guilty of fraud

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov has maintained the fraud charges against him were "absurd".
Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov has maintained the fraud charges against him were "absurd". Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV AFP

A Moscow court on Friday handed acclaimed Russian theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov a three-year suspended jail sentence after finding him guilty of embezzlement, in a long-running case that critics slam as fabricated.

Advertising

The judge ruled that Serebrennikov, 50, and two co-defendants were guilty of misappropriating 129 million rubles ($2m/€1.8m) of state funds that financed a theatrical project.

The three defendants, who deny the charges, were ordered to return the money.

An icon of the Russian arts scene, Serebrennikov was appointed artistic director in 2012 of the Gogol Centre, a venue that he has turned into a home for Moscow's artists and liberal intelligentsia.

He earned international acclaim in 2018 for his film "Leto", about the Soviet-era underground rock scene, which competed for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

>> Cannes review: 'Leto', Soviet Russia’s summer of love and rock 'n' roll

The case against him sparked condemnations from rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, the Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) and the Federation of European Film Directors (FERA). 

Serebrennikov and his co-defendants were charged in 2017 for embezzling funds for a performing arts project called Platform, which received state funding and which promoted modern dance, theatre and music in Russia.

The accusation pursued by the state was a false claim, according to Human Rights Watch, that one of Platform’s shows did not take place, when in fact it was staged numerous times. It sparked a social media campaign in Russia, with people using the hashtag #ябылнаплатформе (“I was at Platform”).

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning