The artistic director was questioned “as an eyewitness in a criminal case into misappropriation of state funds”

The Gogol-Center’s theater director, who was taken into the Investigative Committee’s office in Moscow for questioning as a witness in an embezzlement case, was released late on Tuesday, a TASS correspondent reported from the scene.

“I’m a witness,” Kirill Serebrennikov confirmed to reporters after stepping out of the Investigative Committee building.
A spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee’s Moscow office, Yulia Ivanova, said the stage director was being questioned “as an eyewitness in an criminal investigation regarding the embezzlement of state funds.”

According to the detectives, a group of yet-to-be identified perpetrators occupying senior positions in the non-governmental organization Seventh Studio embezzled about 200 million rubles ($3.6 mln) in state grants in 2011-2014. The government had earmarked the funds for promoting modern art and culture projects.

The Investigative Committee spokeswoman said Wednesday that the Seventh Studio’s former head, and former chief accountant were considered suspects in the case and detained.
“At the moment, the Seventh Studio’s Director General Yuri Itin and his former chief accountant Nina Maslyayeva were detained on suspicion of committing this crime,” Ivanova said, adding that the suspects face charges of large-scale fraud.

The non-governmental organization for the development and popularization of modern art, Seventh Studio, was created in July 2011 for carrying out a project by stage director Kirill Serebrennikov called Platform. It was positioned as a series of events each constituting a blend of four arts – theater, music, dance and visual arts. It was to receive government subsidies as compensation for expenditures.

The modern art center Vinzavod joined the project by providing its facilities and buildings. The project envisaged ten experimental stage productions a year, new musical and choreographic shows, guest performances by modern dance theaters from Russia’s regions in Moscow, enlightenment projects and modern art master classes. According to the federal budget drafts for 2012-2014 the center was to receive an annual 70 million rubles in subsidies through the Ministry of Culture.