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Russian theatre director placed under house arrest

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A Russian court placed the head of a Moscow youth theatre under house arrest on Friday in connection to a controversial fraud case linked to the acclaimed director Kirill Serebrennikov.

Sofia Apfelbaum, director of the Russian Academic Youth Theatre, is accused of being involved in embezzling $1.2 million (one million euros) of state grants while working with Serebrennikov's Seventh Studio production company between 2011 and 2014.

Russia's Investigative Committee has charged Apfelbaum with "fraud committed by an organised group".

She told the court she had controlled the finances of the company but denied any wrongdoing.

Her arrest comes a week after a Moscow court extended the house arrest of director Serebrennikov, who has been detained since August, until January 2018, meaning he would miss the premiere of his Nureyev ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Serebrennikov's arrest shocked Russia's arts community in a case critics view as part of the latest crackdown on liberal culture under the rule of President Vladimir Putin.

The director -- who heads Moscow's Gogol Centre theatre and has staged several productions at the Bolshoi -- has denounced the charges as "absurd".

International stars including Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen have called for Serebrennikov's release without charge.

Apfelbaum has been confined to her home until December 26, as ordered by the court.

A Russian court placed the head of a Moscow youth theatre under house arrest on Friday in connection to a controversial fraud case linked to the acclaimed director Kirill Serebrennikov.

Sofia Apfelbaum, director of the Russian Academic Youth Theatre, is accused of being involved in embezzling $1.2 million (one million euros) of state grants while working with Serebrennikov’s Seventh Studio production company between 2011 and 2014.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has charged Apfelbaum with “fraud committed by an organised group”.

She told the court she had controlled the finances of the company but denied any wrongdoing.

Her arrest comes a week after a Moscow court extended the house arrest of director Serebrennikov, who has been detained since August, until January 2018, meaning he would miss the premiere of his Nureyev ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Serebrennikov’s arrest shocked Russia’s arts community in a case critics view as part of the latest crackdown on liberal culture under the rule of President Vladimir Putin.

The director — who heads Moscow’s Gogol Centre theatre and has staged several productions at the Bolshoi — has denounced the charges as “absurd”.

International stars including Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen have called for Serebrennikov’s release without charge.

Apfelbaum has been confined to her home until December 26, as ordered by the court.

AFP
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