Breaking: Russia gives suspended sentence to opera director

Breaking: Russia gives suspended sentence to opera director


norman lebrecht

June 26, 2020

Moscow’s Meshchansky district court has sentenced Kirill Serebrennikov to three years of probation and a token 800,000 ruble ($11,500) fine.

The verdict is seen as a reflection of international outrage at the show trial to which Serebrennikov was subjected after three years of house arrest over critical commenats he made about the Putin regime.

It remains to be seen whether the house arrest will be lifted, and whether he will be allowed to leave the country to resume his international career.

More here.


  • Stan Collins says:

    Try to rein in your hatred long enough to get the facts straight. Kirill was released from house arrest more than a year ago, today he was given a three year suspended sentence. There are no future restrictions on travel and no future house arrest. This was not a show trial. Rather, it was a re-trial because the court determined that the previous trial, in which he was found guilty, was flawed. No one can determine the extent to which international protests influenced the judge.

    Protests came from three interest groups. Artists protested loss of artistic freedom. Activists protested government repression of criticism. Russia/Putin haters assaulted the establishment for threatening dissidents and blamed Putin.

    Kirill described bookkeeping as shabby. This was the heart of the problem. Money was often distributed in cash without receipts. This was public money, it is illegal to use cash in this way. Their cavalier attitude toward accountability made scrutiny of expenses impossible, and left Kirill open to arbitrary accusations. The greater scandal is improper accounting of expenses for artistic support. Since many in the artistic community agree with Kirill and regard cashing expenses as the norm, a protocol needs to be established with monitoring so that this doesn’t happen again. This is public money dedicated to art. Most taxpayers do not benefit and many live on tight budgets. Such flagrant, widespread disregard opens the artistic community to backlash which can jeopardize future funding.

    The court reached the correct verdict. Illegal distribution methods were the norm, but there was nothing to indicate that Kirill benefited personally. He had already been under house arrest for more than a year. This sentence emphatically sends the message that the cashing method must stop. We will see if the various interest groups can be objective about this outcome.

    • citicrab says:

      Try not to reveal your place of employment as obviously (although the fact you folks won’t even miss this blog is impressive). One does not  have to be a “Putin hater” to know there is no rule of law in Russia, and this case is no different from a myriad of other sham ones. “The court determined …”, “get the facts …” my ass. Stop using big words. Russian courts in any even marginally sensitive cases do not “determine”, they comply. Their puppet-masters are a diverse group, and the prevailing winds change; the uniform outrage of the arts community  may have helped a bit, and so Serebrennikov has been let go, in the end. And your explanation of the technical issues is laughable to anyone who understands Russian realities.

      In August, 1968, Auden commented on the Soviet crushing of the “Prague Spring” thus:

      The Ogre does what ogres can,
      Deeds quite impossible for Man,
      But one prize is beyond his reach,
      The Ogre cannot master Speech.
      About a subjugated plain,
      Among its desperate and slain,
      The Ogre stalks with hands on hips
      While drivel gushes from his lips. 

      Today this Ogre still does what he can but he has a better staff who spread the gushing drivel far and wide, including on this blog.