Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (23 June) on the demand by the public prosecutor in Moscow for a lengthy prison sentence for Kirill Serebrennikov:
I am very concerned about the demand that Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov be sentenced to six years in prison, as well as about the upholding of the allegations against him by the Ministry of Culture.
I call again on the Russian institutions to ensure an objective, fair and transparent trial in accordance with rule-of-law principles.
Through our international cultural policy, we support the protection of freedom for art and cultural workers. Serebrennikov’s case is thus also of great importance for German-Russian cultural cooperation. His conviction would send an alarming message as regards artistic freedom!
On 22 June 2020, the public prosecutor in Moscow called for the renowned and internationally famous theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov to be sentenced to up to six years in prison. He and his co-defendants are accused of allegedly embezzling 129 million roubles (approx. 1.7 million euro) of state funding. The verdict is due to be announced on 26 June. Following his arrest on 22 August 2017, Kirill Serebrennikov was under house arrest for over 18 months. In an open letter, thousands of people from Russia’s cultural sector urged Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova to familiarise herself personally with the case and to have the charges against Serebrennikov dropped.
The German Government has expressed its concern several times since Serebrennikov’s arrest about the nature of the charges and the repeated extensions of his house arrest. The internationally renowned director has worked closely with German cultural institutions for years and is a highly respected partner for many German theatres and opera houses.