Russian theatre, opera and film director Kirill Serebrennikov has been convicted of embezzlement. However, he will not face any jail time – instead receiving a three-year suspended sentence.
Serebrennikov and three co-defendants, including two who worked for his troupe Seventh Studio, were accused of syphoning money from the government Platforma grant project. The case, which has run for several years, is widely seen outside Russia as an attempt to silence independent theatre makers.
The Meshchansky Court in Moscow also ordered Serebrennikov to pay a fine of RUB800,000 (€10,000) and said he cannot lead any state-funded organisation for three years.
A number of prominent Russian artists have publically backed Serebrennikov, including Bolshoi Theater director Vladimir Urin and Maly Drama Theater director Lev Dodin.
“You believe in our innocence, you understand what is happening,” said Serebrennikov when he left the court. “Every person here is important and valued.” He is expected to appeal the conviction.
Serebrennikov was originally arrested in 2017, shortly before his opera about the life of Rudolf Nureyev was due to debut. While under house arrest he has remotely directed productions including Così fan tutte in Zurich and Nabucco in Hamburg.