Russian theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov has been released on bail after 18 months spent under house arrest.
The 49-year-old, who was arrested on fraud charges in August 2017, will remain barred from travelling abroad until the end of his trial.
Police allege that the director stole more than 68 million rubles ($1.2 million) of government arts funding by accepting money for a show that never went ahead with a disbanded theatre troupe called Seventh Studio.
The case sparked outrage in Russia’s cultural circles, with critics slamming the case as politically motivated. Hundreds of people gathered outside the courtroom in central Moscow to protest Serebrennikov’s detention when he first appeared before judges in 2017.
Two of Serebrennikov’s co-defendants, former Seventh Studio general director Yury Itin and former Ministry of Culture official Sofia Apfelbaum, were also released. A fourth group member, producer Alexei Malobrodsky, remains under house arrest.
The move comes weeks before Russia’s annual Golden Mask theatre festival, where Serebrennikov is nominated for two awards — including for the headline-grabbing ballet Nureyev at the Bolshoi Theatre.