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Prague theatre festival protests against Serebrennikov’s arrest

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Prague, Aug 30 (CTK) – Organisers of the international festival Theatre in Plzen, West Bohemia, protest against the detention of Russian theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov, suspected of embezzling a state subsidy, as politically motivated, festival director Jan Burian told journalists on Wednesday.

“Serebrennikov is one of the most important figures of contemporary European theatre. He is so successful that he does not need to fraudulently take out money from the Russian theatre. He does not earn his living in this way, he earns his living by foreign guest performances,” Burian said.

Serebrennikov was repeatedly a guest to the festival, which is held in Plzen.

The 25th festival will start on September 13, showing almost 50 performances of 29 theatre groups from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Italy, Belgium, Hungary and Poland.

Last week Serebrennikov, 47, was detained in Saint Petersburg where he was shooting a film. He was moved to Moscow and taken into custody.

If convicted, he may be sentenced up to ten years in prison.

Russian authorities say Serebrennikov embezzled the equivalent of one million dollars for his creation between 2011 and 2014.

He has denied any wrongdoing. A number of representatives of the European theatre and film have stood up on Serebrennikov’s behalf.

“Tomorrow we will launch a petition so that it could be signed by people, Czech theatre workers in particular. We will send it to the Russian embassy and the Czech government,” Burian said.

The organisers of the festival feel the necessity to express protest “against the apparent, politically motivated intervention and also in support of artistic creation in Russia,” he added.

“We believe that this concerns us. The European theatre, including the Russian one, should be one free family,” Burian said.

Since 2012, Serebrennikov has been the artistic director of the Gogol Center in Moscow.

Last year, the festival in Plzen staged his performance Martyr, including the eponymous film he shot. Serebrennikov’s works of art criticise excessive bureaucracy, corruption and senior state officials.

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