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article imageRussia seizes top theatre director's assets

By AFP     Nov 9, 2017 in World

Russia has seized the assets of acclaimed theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov including his apartment, in a controversial fraud case that has shocked the arts community, a court said Thursday.

"Ruble and foreign currency accounts, an apartment and a car have been frozen," a spokeswoman for Moscow's Basmanny district court, Yunona Tsareva, told AFP.

She added that following last month's court ruling more than 360,000 rubles ($6,000) and more than 60,000 euros in his bank accounts had been frozen.

Over $4,000 in cash has also been seized.

Tsareva declined to specify whether the state had seized the apartment where Serebrennikov now lives under house arrest.

Serebrennikov -- who heads Moscow's innovative Gogol Centre theatre and has staged productions at the Bolshoi theatre -- has been accused of defrauding the state of over $1 million in arts funding.

He was placed under house arrest in August and a court ruling last month extended the arrest until January 19.

Serebrennikov's supporters have slammed his prosecution as a crackdown on Russia's freewheeling arts community ahead of a March presidential election which is widely expected to see President Vladimir Putin extend his Kremlin term to 2024.

Serebrennikov has denounced the charges as "absurd".

Dozens of prominent figures in Russia and international stars including Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen have called for Serebrennikov's release without charge.

The case has ensnared several other prominent figures including Sofia Apfelbaum, director of the Russian Academic Youth Theatre, who has also been placed under house arrest.

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