Cate Blanchett signs petition calling for charges against Kirill Serebrennikov to be dropped

Cate Blanchett signs petition calling for charges against Kirill Serebrennikov to be dropped
Cate Blanchett speaking in San Diego in 2017. Image: Gage Skidmore under a CC licence

29 August 2017

Cate Blanchett has joined a growing chorus of high-profile cultural figures calling on the Russian authorities to drop charges levelled against detained theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov, as support from the art world continues to spread beyond the borders of Russia.

Thomas Ostermeier, the director of Schaubühne theatre in Berlin and co-author of the petition along with Marius von Mayenburg, describes the charges against Kirill Serebrennikov as “flimsy” and “politically motivated”, a sentiment echoed in Russia from many of the country’s leading cultural figureheads. According to reports, even Vladimir Putin’s culture adviser Nikolai Tolstoy, has labelled the Serebrennikov ordeal a “shameful episode”.

The petition has been signed by actors Cate Blanchett and Nina Hoss, director Simon McBurney, artist Sophie Calle, novelist Elfriede Jelinek, as well as playwrights David Harrower and Mark Ravenhill.

The renowned theatre director, who has been under house arrest since 23 August, stands accused of embezzling $1.1m of state funds allocated for a Gogol Centre production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, charges Serebrennikov describes as “absurd” and “schizophrenic”.

While Russia’s culture minister Vladimir Medinsky maintains there are no cynical undertones to the arrest, Ostermeier, who has known and worked Serebrennikov for over a decade, says that the allegations “fit the usual pattern by which unwanted artist are brought to a fall in Russia — not by censorship but under the pretext of easily spun charges of financial misconduct.”

Serebrennikov will remain under house arrest until 19 October, with the filming for his latest project about the Soviet rockstar Viktor Tsoi on hold until further notice.

Source: The Guardian