Russian Director Put Under House Arrest in Fraud Case

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Kirill Serebrennikov

Kirill Serebrennikov is suspected of alleged embezzlement of state funds in a high-profile case that many consider absurd.

Prominent Russian film and theater director Kirill Serebrennikov was put under house arrest Wednesday after spending a night in jail.

A Moscow court ignored offers from leading cultural figures — including director and actor Fedor Bondarchuk, actors Chulpan Khamatova and Konstantin Khabensky and singer Filip Kirkorov — to put up bail money for Serebrennikov.

Serebrennikov was detained Tuesday on suspicion of a role in the embezzlement of 68 million rubles ($1.2 million) in government funds allocated for the theater company Sedmaya Studia, which he used to head.

Many in Russia believe that the case involving Serebrennikov is absurd, and some 350 protestors gathered Wednesday outside the Moscow courthouse where his case was being heard, including directors Alexei Popogrebsky and Boris Khlebnikov.

"This is a Kafkaesque situation," Popogrebsky told The Hollywood Reporter. "It is a symbolic act to frighten all those in the arts. A clear signal is being put out."

Khlebnikov added that it was absurd to suggest that Serebrennikov had embezzled money. "The arrest and charges are absolutely politically motivated," he said.

Serebrennikov was detained in St Petersburg, where he was within a week of finishing filming on location of his new film, Summer.