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Trial for acclaimed theater director opens in Russia

MOSCOW — The fraud trial of arguably Russia’s best-known contemporary theater and film director has opened in Moscow.

Kirill Serebrennikov is accused of embezzling 133 million rubles (about $2 million) of state funding for a theater project.

Speaking at the start of the trial on Wednesday the 49-year-old Serebrennikov denied the charges, saying that he has “never stolen anything from anyone.”

Serebrennikov’s arrest in August last year sent shockwaves through Russia’s art circles and was seen by some as a chilling omen of a return to Soviet-style censorship.

Serebrennikov’s work both on stage and on the screen challenged the establishment, its values and lifestyle.