Germany: Protesters descend on Russian embassy as director Serebrennikov found guilty of embezzlement

Protesters demonstrated outside of the Russian embassy in Berlin on Friday, calling for the release of filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov who faces a potential sentence of six years imprisonment after being found guilty of embezzlement in Moscow. Organisers from the Schaubuhne theatre in Berlin brought with them a petition carrying 56,000 signatures denouncing the charges against Serebrennikov, and protesters attempted to deliver the signatures to the embassy. «From abroad I evaluate that the claims are not justified and that it is an attempt to either lock up a politically unpleasant artist for flimsy reasons, or to install such a trial that would scare others off who want to engage themselves politically,» said Thomas Ostermeier, director of the Schaubuhne. The Russian filmmaker and theatre director and two of his assistants were found guilty of embezzling funds from the Russian Culture Ministry, which supported the artist's Platforma arts project that oversaw hundreds of theatre performances, on Friday. Serebrennikov was detained in August 2017 with three other people on charges of misusing 129 million roubles (€1.6m, $1.8m) of state funds allocated for the Platform project between 2011-2014. The court stated that «Serebrennikov was managing a criminal conspiracy. The criminal group was solid and acted with the aim to steal treasury funds». On June 22 the prosecution asked the court to sentence the director to six years in a penal colony.


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