15 Apr 2019 12:49

Court orders new evaluation in Studio Seven case

MOSCOW. Feb 15 (Interfax) - The Moscow Meshchansky District Court has ordered a new comprehensive evaluation in the Studio Seven case, in which Gogol Center art director and stage director Kirill Serebrennikov stands accused, an Interfax correspondent reported.

"The court orders a comprehensive financial-economic, estimative, and art evaluation in the case," Judge Irina Akkuratova said.

The court has thus taken the side of the defense lawyers, who suggested that the court order a comprehensive evaluation in the case and not only a financial-economic evaluation.

Akkuratova suggested ordering a new expert evaluation in the case "to determine the circumstances associated with the financial-economic activities of Studio Seven" on February 5 after studying the results of the financial evaluation conducted by the investigators and presented by the prosecutors.

The court ordered to postpone hearing the Studio Seven case by two months, until 11:00 a.m. on June 17 due to the new evaluation having been ordered.

According to the court ruling, experts of the Center of Judicial Evaluations at the Russian Justice Ministry will perform the financial-economic evaluation. The court ordered to engage Marina Andreikina, a Chekhov Art Theater deputy director, and Vidmantas Silunas, a Theater Art Institute professor, in the art evaluation.

The experts will determine the amount of funding received by Studio Seven from the Culture Ministry in 2011-2014, the amount of money received from other sources, Studio Seven's total expenditures in this period, the expenditures not associated with the Platform project, the amount money transferred to companies that provided cashing services, and the costs of every specific event.

The court allowed the defendants to be present at the evaluation and to make comments.

The defendants in the case are charged with embezzling 133 million rubles provided by the Culture Ministry to Studio Seven, founded by Serebrennikov, for the Platform project in 2011-2014.

There are now four defendants in the case: Serebrennikov, Alexei Malobrodsky, who was Studio Seven's general producer until August 2012 and later the Gogol Center head, Sofya Apfelbaum, the former head of the Culture Ministry's department of state support for art and crafts, and Russian Academic Youth Theater director, ex-Studio Seven director general Yury Itin.

The Studio Seven investigation was completed in 2018 and the case files were forwarded to the Meshchansky District Court in October.

The defendants have categorically denied any wrongdoing. According to their lawyers, all of the budget funds allocated for Studio Seven, including those converted into cash, were spent on the Platform project, and the investigation mistakenly decided that financial damage had been incurred based only on the amount of funds turned into cash during the work of the organization.

In early February, Akkuratova ordered a new financial evaluation as part of the case. The court is currently collecting necessary documents and materials to be forwarded to experts and is interviewing a number of witnesses and defendants.

The case involving former Studio Seven chief accountant Nina Maslyayeva was separated from the others in early 2018 as she was the only suspect to plead guilty, sign a plea agreement, and testify against her former colleagues.

A separate case has also been opened against former Studio Seven producer Yekaterina Voronova, who has been put on the wanted list after leaving the country.