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Investigators claim to have enough evidence to prove Serebrennikov guilty of fraud

Large-scale fraud "is confirmed by testimony from witnesses and financial documents seized during the investigation
Kirill Serebrennikov  Vyacheslav Prokofiev/TASS
Kirill Serebrennikov
© Vyacheslav Prokofiev/TASS

MOSCOW, August 22. /TASS/. The guilt of Russian stage director Kirill Serebrennikov detained on suspicion of masterminding a 68-million-ruble ($1 mln) fraud, is confirmed by eyewitness reports and financial documents, Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko told TASS on Tuesday.

Large-scale fraud "is confirmed by testimony from witnesses, results of investigative activities, financial documents seized during the investigation and other evidence," she said.

In 2011, Serebrennikov initiated the project called Platform to develop and popularize modern art. The non-governmental organization for the development and popularization of modern art, Seventh Studio, was created in July 2011 for implementing his project. It was positioned as a series of events each constituting a blend of four arts - theater, music, dance and visual arts. It was to receive government subsidies in compensation for costs.

The modern art center Vinzavod joined the project by providing its facilities and buildings. The project envisaged ten experimental stage productions a year, new musical and choreographic shows, guest performances by modern dance theaters from Russia’s regions in Moscow, enlightenment projects and modern art master classes. According to the federal budget drafts for 2012-2014 the center was to receive an annual 70 million rubles in subsidies through the Ministry of Culture.

Serebrennikov involved his acquaintances Yury Itin, Alexei Malobrodsky, Yelena Voronova, Nina Maslyayeva and others in the project. Former Gogol Center’s director and former producer of the Seventh Studio (Sedmaya Studiya) autonomous noncommercial organization Alexey Malobrodsky, as well as the organization’s former Director General Yury Itin and senior accountant Nina Maslyaeva were detained under the same criminal case.

"Investigators believe that acting upon instructions from Serebrennikov and Itin, in 2011-2014 Malobrodsky, Voronova and Maslyaeva were yearly designing plans of events within the Platrorm project that contained knowingly corrupt overestimated data on their numbers and price," Petrenko said.

Then they submitted these plans to the Russian Ministry of Culture to substantiate amounts of budget financing.

In future, they fabricated and submitted to the ministry reports, "proving that the subsidies received by the Seventh Studio had been spent in full for the earlier envisaged events," the spokeswoman said.

Besides, the investigators believe Serebrennikov instructed the above persons so that the Seventh Studio sign fictitious agreements with legal entities and individual entrepreneurs under its jurisdiction, which were allegedly meeting engagements regarding the events under the Platform project," she went on.

"Under the guise of payments for these agreements, the money coming from the Russian Ministry of Culture was put into the accounts of these parties (some of them were fly-by-night companies), cashed and distributed by Serebrennikov among accomplices," she said. According to the investigation, at least 68 million rubles earmarked from the federal budget was embezzled thus.

On Tuesday, the Russian Investigative Committee’s Special Investigations Department detained Artistic Director of the Moscow-based Gogol Center theater Kirill Serebrennikov. He is suspected of masterminding an embezzlement scheme of no less than 68 million rubles earmarked for the Platform project in 2011-2014.

His suspected activities are being classified by investigators under Part 4 of Section 159 of Russia’s Criminal Code (Large-scale fraud).

A court session to choose pre-trial restrictions for Serebrennikov is appointed for August 23. It will be held at Moscow’s Basmanny court at 12:00 Moscow time. "We don’t know as of yet what these restrictions will be. Request for the pre-trial restrictions will be submitted to the court tomorrow, at 10 am," Kharitonov said. He said that after the questioning, Serebrennikov was taken to Matrosskaya Tishina detention facility in eastern Moscow.