RUSSIALINK: “Serebrennikov’s house arrest prolonged by another 3 months” – Interfax

File Photos of Law Books and Gavel, adapted from image at fjc.gov

MOSCOW. April 2 (Interfax) – The Meshchansky Court of Moscow has extended the house arrest of the Gogol Center’s artistic director Kirill Serebrennikov, who has been charged as part of the Studio Seven case, until July 3, an Interfax correspondent reported.

“The court finds that the state prosecutor’s request shall be granted and rules that defendant Serebrennikov’s house arrest shall be extended by three months until July 3, 2019,” Judge Irina Akkuratova said.

The court also gave the same extension to the house arrest of another two defendants in this case – Sofya Apfelbaum, the former head of the Russian Culture Ministry’s department of state support for art and crafts and director of the Russian Academic Youth Theater, and ex-Studio Seven director general Yury Itin.

Another defendant – former Studio Seven general producer and former Gogol Center director Alexei Malobrodsky, who was in custody from June 2017 to May 2018 – is currently under travel restrictions.

State Prosecutor Oleg Lavrov defended his move to ask the court to extend the house arrest of Serebrennikov, Apfelbaum and Itin by arguing that keeping the defendants under house arrest will help ensure an effective and timely trial and will also prevent the defendants from fleeing, putting pressure on witnesses or getting in touch with former Studio Seven producer Yekaterina Voronova, who has been declared wanted.

The defense team, for its part, asked the court to turn down the state prosecutor’s request and lift the defendants’ restraining measures, which have been prolonged more than once.

“There is nothing in the state prosecutor’s request other than the wish to hurt us,” Serebrennikov said at the court session on Monday.

The people implicated in the Studio Seven case have been charged with embezzling 133 million rubles provided by the state to the autonomous non-governmental organization founded Serebrennikov for the implementation of the Platforma project in 2011-2014.

The Studio Seven investigation was completed in 2018 and the case files were forwarded to the Meshchansky Court in October.

The defendants have categorically denied any wrongdoing. According to their lawyers, all of the budget funds allocated for Studio Seven, including the funds converted into cash, were spent on the Platform project, and the investigation mistakenly decided that financial damage had been incurred based only on the amount of funds turned into cash during the work of this autonomous non-governmental organization.

In early February, Akkuratova ordered a new financial examination as part of this case. The court is currently collecting necessary documents and materials to be forwarded to experts and is interviewing some witnesses and defendants.

The case involving former Studio Seven chief accountant Nina Maslyayeva was separated from the others in early 2018, as she was the only suspect to plead guilty, sign a plea agreement and testify against her former colleagues.

A separate case has also been opened against Voronova, who has been put on the wanted list after leaving the country.

[featured image is file photo from another occasion]