Defendants in theater embezzlement case contest against trial during pandemic
MOSCOW, April 13 (RAPSI) – Defendants in the Seventh Studio embezzlement case involving the Gogol Center theater director Kirill Serebrennikov have argued against hearings during the coronavirus outbreak, lawyer Irina Poverinova has told RAPSI.
The defendants believe it is not necessary to hold hearings during the epidemic. Moreover, according to legislation, only urgent cases are to be considered at this period, the attorney has said.
The next hearing is scheduled for April 20.
Earlier, Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court decided that the trial is to be conducted in the ordinary course, without the use of videoconference, despite the quarantine restrictions.
In late 2019, the court commissioned the third complex financial and economic, and art valuation examination. A previous evaluation in 2018 failed to establish a fact of embezzlement.
Defendants in the case along with Serebrennikov are producer Alexey Malobrodsky, ex-head of Seventh Studio stage company Yury Itin, ex-official of Russia’s Culture Ministry and current director of the Russian Academic Youth Theater Sophia Apfelbaum.
Ex-chief accountant of Seventh Studio Nina Maslyayava is tried separately. She admitted guilt in full.
Other defendants pleaded not guilty calling charges against them pointless and absurd. Moreover, Serebrennikov and Malobrodsky lay the blame on Maslyayeva.
One more defendant, producer Yekaterina Voronova has been put on the international wanted list and arrested in absentia.
According to investigators, defendants in the case stole 133 of 214 million rubles ($3.3 million) of budget funds allocated to the Seventh Studio company in 2011-2014 for development and popularization of contemporary art in Russia as part of the project Platforma.
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 Platforma project for promotion of art and called alleged accomplices into the organization.