MOSCOW, November 7. /TASS/. Movie and theater director Kirill Serebrennikov has pleaded not guilty to embezzling 130 mln rubles ($1.98 mln) earmarked from the Russian budget for his Platform project, a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom.
“I plead not guilty, I have neither embezzled anything nor have I set up a criminal group for any embezzlement purposes. This charge is absurd… I always steered clear of financial operations, I don’t understand them and they are not my responsibility,” Serebrennikov told the court.
“As the project’s artistic director, I am ready to be the first to give testimony and talk about what happened,” he added.
Producer Alexei Malobrodsky also pleaded not guilty to embezzling the Seventh Studio organization’s funds. “I had a chance to study the Criminal Code article under which I am being charged and I am totally clueless as to what I am being accused of. I deny ever being involved in such a crime,” he emphasized.
Other defendants in the case also pleaded not guilty.
According to investigators, in 2011, Kirill Serebrennikov launched a project called Platforma (or Platform) in order to develop and promote modern art. In 2011-2014, the Russian Culture Ministry allocated over 214 mln rubles ($3.2 mln) for the project. Serebrennikov established an autonomous non-commercial organization Sedmaya Studiya (or Seventh Studio) to implement the project, hiring a number of his acquaintances, including Alexei Malobrodsky, Yuri Itin, Yekaterina Voronova and Nina Maslyayeva, to work there.
Detectives believe that in 2011-2014, Malobrodsky, Voronova and Maslyayeva developed annual event plans within the Platform project upon the instructions of Serebrennikov and Itin, deliberately using false data about the number and the cost of the events. They provided those plans to the Culture Ministry to justify budget financing. They also made up project performance reports to present to the ministry, which proved that the budget allowances received by the Seventh Studio had been fully spent on the planned activities. The investigation believes that a total of 130 mln rubles ($1.98 mln) was embezzled from the federal budget in this manner.
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