MOSCOW, June 26 (RAPSI) – Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court on Friday found  the Gogol Center theater director Kirill Serebrennikov and other defendants guilty in a case over embezzlement of 129 million rubles (about $2 million) of budget funds allocated for the theater project Platforma, RAPSI reported from the courtroom.

The court found that Serebrennikov and ex-head of Seventh Studio stage company Yury Itin had committed embezzlement involving producer Alexey Malobrodsky in the crime. However, Director of the Russian Academic Youth Theater Sophia Apfelbaum was not aware of their criminal plans but provided for the approval of the Platforma financial plans submitted by Serebrennikov. However, the court found Apfelbaum guilty of negligence resulted in grave damage.

On June 22, a prosecutor demanded a 6-year jail sentence and an 800,000-ruble fine for Serebrennikov, for 5 years in penal colony with a 300,000-ruble fine Malobrodsky, 4 years behind bars with a 200,000-ruble fine for Itin and Apfelbaum each.

In late 2019, the court commissioned the third complex financial and economic, and art valuation examination. A previous evaluation in 2018 failed to establish a fact of embezzlement. According to the results of the third examination, over 129 million rubles were embezzled from the arts project Platforma.

Ex-chief accountant of Seventh Studio Nina Maslyayava is tried separately. She admitted guilt in full.

Other defendants pleaded not guilty calling charges against them pointless and absurd. Moreover, Serebrennikov and Malobrodsky lay the blame on Maslyayeva.

One more defendant, producer Yekaterina Voronova has been put on the international wanted list and arrested in absentia.

According to investigators, defendants in the case stole 133 of 214 million rubles ($3.3 million) of budget funds allocated to the Seventh Studio company in 2011-2014 for development and popularization of contemporary art in Russia as part of the project Platforma.

Serebrennikov was arrested in late August 2017 and then placed under house arrest. In early November, Moscow’s Basmanny District Court seized assets belonging to Serebrennikov including apartment, car, and money in the amount of more than 360,000 rubles ($5,300), over €60,000, and $4,000.

Investigators believe that he was an organizer of the budget money embezzlement. He allegedly created Seventh Studio stage company to actualize Platforma project for promotion of art and called alleged accomplices into the organization.