MOSCOW, April 22. /TASS/. The Moscow City Court released theater director Kirill Serebrennikov and another two defendants in public funds embezzlement case from house arrest for good behavior, the court said in a statement.
"The court of appeal found out that the defendants - Sofia Apfelbaum, Yuri Itin and Kirill Serebrennikov - had neither violated their house arrest nor obstructed the investigation," the statement reads.
In addition, investigators failed to provide solid reasons for extending house arrest. "While extending the house arrest of Sofia Apfelbaum, Yuri Itin and Kirill Serebrennikov, the court did not fully take into consideration the facts of the case, the trial’s progress and the duration of the defendants’ house arrest," the document said.
The court added that "the case files contain no evidence showing that if released from house arrest, the defendants may seek to escape justice of obstruct court proceedings in any other way."
On April 8, the Moscow City Court released Serebrennikov, producer Yuri Itin and former Culture Ministry official Sofia Apfelbaum on their own recognizance.
On October 25, 2018, Moscow’s 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.