New East Digital Archive

Court upholds detention of former Gogol Centre figureheads in ongoing fraud investigation

Court upholds detention of former Gogol Centre figureheads in ongoing fraud investigation

6 September 2017

A Moscow court has rejected the appeals of three of the defendants in the ongoing Gogol Centre investigation, upholding the terms of their arrest.

Earlier today, the court heard appeals from the Gogol Centre’s former general producer Alexei Malobrodsky, ex-accountant Nina Maslyaeva and ex-director Yuri Itin, accused of embezzling $1.1m of state funds in connection with Kirill Serebrennikov’s theatre company Seventh Studio. Though many believe the case against Seventh Studio to be a political show trial, government officials have rejected these claims, while Vladimir Putin broke his silence yesterday, announcing that it is up to the court to decide whether the defendents are guilty or not.

On 8 August during Maslyaeva’s trial, the accountant confessed to having helped Serebrennikov, Malobrodsky and Itin syphon off government funds, though Serebrennikov’s lawyers have since pointed out she claimed the theatre director had nothing to do with financial matters, denying his involvement in the crimes.

Maslyaeva and Malobrodsky have been sitting in a pretrial jail since 24 May and 21 June respectively, while ex-director Yuri Itin has been under house arrest for several months. While the court rejected the appeals of all three defendants, they did today relax the terms of Itin’s detention somewhat, allowing him to take walks between 10am and noon daily. The three are due to next appear in court on 19 October, along with Serebrennikov, the current director of the Gogol Centre also sitting under house arrest.

Former Gogol Centre producer Alexei Malobrodsky has received overwhelming support from Russia’s cultural community, with figures including renowned journalist Vladimir Posner, director Alexander Sokurov and writer Vladimir Sorokin signing a letter in early August, calling for his release. Malobrodsky also hit the headlines last week, when he alluded to the threat of an irreversible “all-encompassing oprichnina-like cannibalism” in Russia, in a letter to Moscow-based American journalist John Freedman written from jail. Today in court, a list of guarantors with over 30 names was passed onto the judge that included the Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova, poet Lev Rubinstein and stage director Andrey Moguchy. The full list was also published on Ksenia Larina’s Facebook profile, a presenter on popular radio station Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow).

Ekaterina Voronova is also wanted in connection with the investigation into Seventh Studio. Voronova was the producer of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Gogol Centre production through which it is alleged the embezzling of funds took place.