Russian court keeps theatre director under house arrest

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 27, 2017 file photo, Kirill Serebrennikov, center, one of Russia's most venerated theater and film directors leads a rehearsal of the ballet "Nureyev" in the Bolshoi Theater, in Moscow, Russia. The premiere of the ballet "Nureyev" directed by the prominent director Kirill Serebrennikov was postponed at the last moment, reportedly because of its depiction of the protagonist's homosexuality, and several months later Serebrennikov found himself in the dock. (AP Photo/Damir Yusupov, File)

MOSCOW - A Moscow court on Monday ruled that a prominent theatre and film director who is being investigated for fraud must remain under house arrest.

Kirill Serebrennikov, arguably Russia's best known director, was detained and put under house arrest in August in a criminal case that raised fears of a return to Soviet-style censorship.

Serebrennikov's plays have often been targeted by conservative circles, which dismiss his work as decadent and unpatriotic.

The court ruled Monday Serebrennikov should stay under house arrest at least until late January, rejecting a plea for bail.

Investigators have accused him of scheming to embezzle about $1.1 million in government funds allocated for one of his productions and the projects he directed between 2011 and 2014.

Serebrennikov has dismissed the accusations as absurd.

Serebrennikov's lawyer, Dmitry Kharitonov, told Russian news agencies on Monday that his client had petitioned the investigators to allow him to attend the premiere of the ballet "Nureyev" at the Bolshoi that he had directed. But the chances that Serebrennikov will be allowed to go to the Bolshoi are "negligible," Kharitonov said.

Tickets for "Nureyev," which premiers later this month, went on sale last month and were sold out in a matter of hours.

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