Defendants in high-profile theater embezzlement case to go on trial
MOSCOW, October 2 (RAPSI) – A high-profile embezzlement case involving the Gogol Center theater director Kirill Serebrennikov has been forwarded to Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court for hearing, the press service of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office reports.
Prosecutors have approved indictment in the case, the statement reads.
Serebrennikov was arrested in late August 2017 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 ($5,300), over €60,000, and $4,000.
Investigators believe that he was an organizer of the budget money embezzlement. He allegedly created Seventh Studio stage company to actualize the Platforma project for promotion of art and called alleged accomplices into the organization. He pleaded not guilty.
Other defendants in the case are ex-head of Seventh Studio stage company Yury Itin, ex-general producer Alexey Malobrodsky, and former Seventh Studio chief accountant Nina Maslyayeva, ex-official of Russia’s Culture Ministry and current director of the Russian Academic Youth Theater Sophia Apfelbaum. Producer Yekaterina Voronova, has been put on the international wanted list and arrested in absentia as part of the case.
According to investigation, the defendants have embezzled 133 million rubles ($2 million) of 214 million rubles ($3.2 million) allocated from the budget to Seventh Studio for promotion of Russian contemporary art.
Investigators claim that Itin, Malobrodsky, and Maslyayeva were falsifying data for the Platforma project’s plans in 2011-2014 on the theater director’s request. This data was provided to the Ministry of Culture as the rationale for financing from the state budget.
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.
Apfelbaum, according to investigators, signed contracts on state grants in the amount of more than 214 million rubles with Serebrennikov’s 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, thus abetting the embezzlement.
Apfelbaum admitted that she controlled the movement of cash but denied involvement in the crime.