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Court issues much-anticipated order in favor of Russian theater directors accused of embezzlement

Source: Meduza

Judge Irina Akkuratova of Moscow’s Meshchansky Court has refused to rule on the Seventh Studio criminal case, which has sparked widespread opposition among Russian activists and artists since it was opened in 2017. Akkuratova ordered the case to be returned to prosecutors for further development, writing, “The case as it stands cannot be considered by the court.”

The judge also canceled all remaining restrictions on the movements of the accused, many of whom spent almost two years under house arrest before being transferred to less severe measures this year. Those defendants include several of Russia’s best-known theater professionals, such as award-winning director Kirill Serebrennikov. Their supporters have argued that the Seventh Studio case is politically motivated.

The defendants in the case are accused of embezzling 133 million rubles (about $2 million) that they received through a government grant. The Meshchansky Court acknowledged that there were notable contradictions in the prosecution’s arguments to that effect. For example, evidence indicated that Seventh Studio spent more money on its projects than it received in state funding, but prosecutors insisted that a significant portion of the studio’s grant money had been stolen rather than spent.