Russian director and director Kirill Serebrennikov was sentenced on Friday in Moscow to three years in prison with probation. He was found guilty of embezzlement in a case deemed political by his supporters.
“The rehabilitation of Serebrennikov is possible without any real penalty” of deprivation of liberty, said judge Olessya Mendeleeva. It also imposed on him a ban on directing any cultural organization, a fine and three years of probation.
“Without comment,” said the person after reading the judgment. His face was covered all day with a black protective mask due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
The prosecution had requested six years in prison. The judge considered that the director and director, celebrated in particular for his film Leto and his operas, had been guilty of having diverted subsidies for personal enrichment to the tune of about 129 million rubles ( about 1.76 million francs).
Two other defendants in this case, Iouri Itine and Konstantin Malobrodski, were given suspended sentences of two and three years respectively. A fourth accused, Sofia Apfelbaum, was fined which she will not have to pay because it is covered by prescription. She burst into tears at the statement of these sanctions.
The judge accused the defendants of having acted in a group and of Kirill Serebrennikov for having “directed all the members of the group and taken measures to conceal the thefts”.
Hundreds of supporters of the director, gathered before the Mechtchanski court in the Russian capital, reacted with applause because they feared a heavy prison sentence.
Arrested in August 2017 while filming his film “Leto” in Saint Petersburg (north-west), he had been taken to Moscow and then placed under house arrest until April 2019. Many Russian and foreign cultural figures have expressed to him their support, believing that his art in contradiction with the conservatism of the Russian authorities could have made him enemies at the origin of his setbacks.
Kirill Serebrennikov, artistic director of the Gogol Center, a famous Moscow theater, has always denied the charges against him.
Some 3000 cultural figures called on Monday in a petition to the Ministry of Culture to drop the charges, denouncing a “case that has been fabricated” by investigators.