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Kirill Serebrennikov: Russian theatre director has house arrest conditions lifted by Moscow court

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Kirill Serebrennikov was arrested in 2017 accused of embezzling state funds
Kirill Serebrennikov was arrested in 2017 accused of embezzling state funds
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A Russian court has ordered the release of a renowned film and theatre director who has been under house arrest since August 2017.

On Wednesday, a Moscow city court judge overturned a decision by a lower court to extend his arrest for a further three months.

The 49-year-old head of Moscow’s Gogol Centre theatre will now be able to return to work and communicate with the wider world, though he is not permitted to leave the city.

The court also referred the case back to the Public Prosecutor’s Office highlighting some contradictions in the case.

Serebrennikov and three others are accused of embezzling $2m (€1.8m) of state funding for a theatre project.

Read more: Empty chair at Cannes for detained Russian rock biopic director

His critics say the charges are politically motivated.

The state-run Gogol Centre theatre is one of the most popular venues with the Moscow intelligentsia scene and Serebrennikov has staged several acclaimed but controversial productions such as an adaption of Lars von Trier’s “The Idiots”.

Serebrennikov was supported by the Russian ministry of culture through appointments to state-run theatres and with state funding after he first moved to Moscow from his home city of Rostov-on-Don.

But official state policy towards culture shifted after major protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2011 and the influence of the far more conservative Russian Orthodox Church grew after 2012.

Meanwhile, Serebrennikov started to become more openly critical of the regime, criticising its stance on the rights of the LGBT community and the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Irina Poverinova, the lawyer for one of Serebrennikov’s co-defendants who have also had the restrictions on them removed, said the decision was a “compromise” as the defence had demanded the charges be dropped altogether.