Gogol Theater Director Detained by Russian Authorities for Alleged Embezzlement

According to the Nataliya Vailyeva of The Independent, Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, a vocal critic of President Vladimir V. Putin’s regime, has been detained by Russian authorities in St. Petersburg over the alleged embezzlement of about $1.2 million in government funding to the Gogol Theater (the amount was reported earlier as $21,000). Charges for the crime have now been brought against the director of the Gogol. Serebrennikov, who denied any wrongdoing, was in St. Petersburg working on a movie about a Soviet-era rock star prior to being taken in by authorities.

Many see the director’s recent troubles as nothing more than harassment by the Russian government. In July, his gay-themed ballet about Rudolf Nureyev was shut down by Vladimir G. Urin, the general director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, for supposedly not being up to snuff. And earlier this month, his passport was confiscated by Russian authorities.

Following a series of raids related to the embezzlement, a senior manager and an accountant from the Gogol Theater have been taken into custody. Another manager is under house arrest. Russian news media reported earlier in August that the accountant testified against Serebrennikov.