Russian film director denounces ‘murder’ of his former theater

Russian film director denounces ‘murder’ of his former theater

Russian film director denounces ‘murder’ of his former theater

Russia’s celebrated film director Kirill Serebrennikov, who left the country after criticizing its offensive in Ukraine, has accused the authorities of “murdering” his former theater that he had built into a top cultural venue.

On June 29 evening, Moscow authorities announced a change of leadership at a number of the capital’s top theaters including Sovremennik and Gogol Centre. The Gogol Center would get its old name back - The Nikolai Gogol Drama Theater, they said.

Between 2012 and 2021 Serebrennikov was artistic director of the Gogol Center, which he transformed into a national cultural beacon.

“Yes. Gogol Center has been shuttered. That’s it,” Serebrennikov wrote on messaging app Telegram. “From the point of view of art, this is not just sabotage, this is murder.”

He said the change of leadership was punishment for the venue’s “honesty” and an “attempt at freedom,” including efforts to protest Moscow’s offensive.

He said Gogol Center’s last piece of work will be a play dubbed “I do not take part in a war.”

Serebrennikov, known for deploying daring on-stage nudity and profane language and for modern adaptations of Russian classics left Russia after President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine.

The 52-year-old was caught up in a high-profile fraud case that his supporters say was punishment for challenging the Russian authorities.

The closure of Gogol Center comes amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting voices in Russia, with most opposition activists either in jail or out of the country.

Moscow has stepped up efforts to stamp out dissent since Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24.

Criticism of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine has essentially been outlawed in the country.