MOSCOW, December 25 (RAPSI, Nikita Shiryayev) – The Basmanny District Court of Moscow on Monday extended 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, RAPSI reported from the courtroom.

The court granted a motion filed by investigators. Defense demanded to release Apfelbaum, who currently runs the Russian Academic Youth Theater.

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. Thus, she has abetted the embezzlement of about 68 million rubles ($1.2 million) by Serebrennikov and his alleged accomplices, investigators claim.

Apfelbaum admitted that she controlled the movement of cash but pleaded not guilty to embezzlement.

Serebrennikov was arrested in late August and then placed under house arrest. 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 former head of the company Yury Itin, ex- general producer Alexey Malobrodsky, and former chief accountant Nina Maslyayeva, among others, into organization.

Investigators believe that Itin, Malobrodsky, and 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.