Latvian National Theater speaks against arrest of Russian theater director

The Latvian National Theater has condemned the arrest of director Kiril Serebrennikov saying it amounts to a clampdown and punishment for his artistic activities, the theater said on Facebook. 

"On August 22 the Latvian National Theater learned from the media that the Kiril Serebrennikov, the excellent Russian director and arts director of the Gogol Center was arrested for organizing a fraudulent scheme. We think that changing his detention order to custody is an exaggerated and unacceptable conduct by the Russian authorities, seeing as Serebrennikov ... did not flee the authorities, gave testimony, and had his passport confiscated preventing him from leaving the country," the theater wrote on Facebook. 

The Latvian National Theater describes Serebrennikov as a "free-thinking and brave" artist and considers that the arrest of Serebrennikov amounts to "an act of revenge".

Serebrennikov has been a popular guest director at the Latvian National Theater since 2010 with four productions, including a staging of Gogol's Dead Souls, that brought the theater international accolades and proved very popular in Latvia.

Talks were ongoing between the theater and Serebrennikov over staging a production dedicated to Latvia's centenary next year, the theater revealed.

"The Latvian National Theater supports Kiril Serebrennikov and hopes that the case will proceed according to the law and with no human rights violations, with the possibility to be reviewed at the European Court of Human Rights," the theater concludes.

The authorities accuse Serebrennikov of embezzling 68m roubles (close to €1m) of government funds in a what many in the arts world consider to be part of a crackdown on dissenting voices.

Serebrennikov denies the allegations. A court will on August 23 decide whether to keep him behind bars or put him under house arrest.

On August 24 Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics added his voice to those calling for fair treatment for Serebrennikov.

 

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