Image by Col. Hans Landa
Moscow erupted in surprise and alarm as the much heralded movie director, Kirill Serebrennikov, was arrested and charged with embezzlement, in a case many Muscovites see as political retribution. The Moscow Court refused to release Serebrennikov on bail and kept him under house arrest until his trial. His passports, Russia domestic and international were seized earlier.
The Russian Investigative Committee accused Serebrennikov of embezzling 68 million rubles (approximately $1 million) from a project funded by the Russian government. Hundreds of protesters packed Moscow’s Basmanny Court to show their displeasure and support for the beloved film artist.
“I never thought I’d end up behind bars here and I wasn’t going to flee anywhere…I did not obstruct the investigation in any way. I cooperated with the investigation and told all the truth I knew,” reported Associated Press. His movie, The Student, won an award at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
Describing his passports being taken and his late night arrest while filming, he said, “I’m trying to make our country culturally important and powerful on a global scale…I have no intention to run away, my work is the meaning of my life.”
“Everyone was stunned,” said actor Talgat Batalov, who was going to appear in a play Serebrennikov was going to direct. “It’s a shock for all of us. Although we in Russia are hardly surprised at anything anymore, this is complete lawlessness,” wrote AP.
Muscovites are historically fond of the arts and see this arrest and prosecution as a state effort against the creative class, harking back to oppression during Soviet times. Serebrennikov’s work has been critical of sex and politics in Russia and corruption in government