House arrest of ex-Culture Ministry official Apfelbaum upheld
MOSCOW, January 22 (RAPSI) – The Moscow City Court on Monday upheld a lower court’s ruling to extend the house arrest of former official of Russia’s Culture Ministry Sophia Apfelbaum, who stands charged in the embezzlement case involving the Gogol Center theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, until April 19, the court’s press service told RAPSI.
Apfelbaum, who currently runs the Russian Academic Youth Theater, pleaded not guilty to embezzlement, however she admitted the act of negligence resulted in improper control of budget funds, an investigator said in court.
According to investigators, from 2011 to 2014, Apfelbaum signed contracts on state grants in the amount of more than 214 million rubles ($3.7 million) with Serebrennikov’s Seventh Studio stage company on behalf of the Russian Culture Ministry, and provided further agreement of received reporting documents, which contained overstated information on quantity and cost of the held events.
Serebrennikov was arrested in late August and then placed under house arrest. In early November, Moscow’s Basmanny District Court seized assets belonging to Serebrennikov including apartment, car, and money in the amount of more than 360,000 rubles ($6,000), over € 60,000, and $4,000.
Investigators believe that he was an organizer of the budget money embezzlement. The defendant denied wrongdoing.
He allegedly created Seventh Studio stage company to actualize the Platforma project for promotion of art and invited other defendants into the organization.
Investigators believe that former head of the company Yury Itin, ex- general producer Alexey Malobrodsky, and former company’s chief accountant Maslyayeva were falsifying data for the Platforma project’s plans in 2011-2014 on request of the theater director. This data was provided to the Ministry of Culture as the rationale for financing from the state budget.
Earlier, Maslyayeva has testified against Serebrennikov. She said that Serebrennikov, Malobrodsky and Itin organized embezzlement of money allocated for a cultural event. Serebrennikov and Malobrodsky cashed the money with the assistance of Maslyayeva. The woman also said that she entered falsified data in financial reports.
One more defendant, producer Yekaterina Voronova, has been arrested in absentia and put on the international wanted list.
Investigators claim that the defendants caused a 133-million-ruble damage to the state.