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Theater director Serebrennikov does not view release from house arrest as victory

Serebrennikov described the criminal investigation against him as "unfounded and bound to collapse in court"
Kirill Serebrennikov Artiom Geodakyan/TASS
Kirill Serebrennikov
© Artiom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, April 8. /TASS/. Theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, who has been released on his own recognizance on Monday after spending eighteen months under house arrest, believes he is close to winning the case, a TASS correspondent reported from Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court.

"This is not a victory yet but we are almost there," Serebrennikov said, rushing to hug his colleagues and friends present in the courtroom.

During the hearing, Serebrennikov requested the court release him on his own recognizance, describing the criminal investigation against him as "unfounded and bound to collapse in court."

Apart from Serebrennikov, producer Yuri Itin and former Culture Ministry official Sofia Apfelbaum have also been released on their own recognizance.

Serebrennikov case

On October 25, 2018, the Meshchansky District Court started to consider the Serebrennikov case on its own merits. Apart from Serebrennikov, Itin and Sofia Apfelbaum, producer Alexei Malobrodsky is also among the defendants. A case against the former chief accountant of the Sedmaya Studiya (or Seventh Studio) non-commercial organization, Nina Maslyaeva, will be heard separately as she has made a plea deal.

According to investigators, in 2011, Kirill Serebrennikov launched a project called Platforma (or Platform) in order to develop and promote modern art. In 2011-2014, the Russian Culture Ministry allocated over 214 mln rubles ($3.2 mln) for the project. Serebrennikov established an autonomous non-commercial organization Sedmaya Studiya (or Seventh Studio) to implement the project, hiring a number of his acquaintances, including Alexei Malobrodsky, Yuri Itin, Yekaterina Voronova and Nina Maslyayeva, to work there.

Detectives believe that in 2011-2014, Malobrodsky, Voronova and Maslyayeva developed annual event plans within the Platform project upon the instructions of Serebrennikov and Itin, deliberately using false data about the number and the cost of the events. They provided those plans to the Culture Ministry to justify budget financing. They also made up performance reports to present to the ministry, which proved that the budget allowances received by the Seventh Studio had been fully spent on the planned activities. The investigation believes that a total of 130 mln rubles ($1.98 mln) was embezzled from the federal budget in this manner.