The Atlantic

A Theatrical Moscow Trial Draws the Ire of Russia's Cultural Elite

Embezzlement charges against a leading Russian theater director come amidst a growing cultural crackdown that mirrors the country’s Soviet past.
Source: Tatyana Makeyeva / AP

MOSCOW—Outside a courtroom here in the Russian capital, dozens of people crowded along a narrow corridor, some wearing T-shirts calling for those on trial to be freed, others clad in hipster and designer outfits. In many ways, the scene at the Meshansky District Court of Moscow was much the same as when human-rights activists or opposition politicians have gone before a judge, facing an almost certain conviction for having challenged the authority of President Vladimir Putin.

Except this time, the person on trial is not your typical activist. He is the country’s leading modern theater director, and those outside the courtroom are not those usually associated with defending human rights—they are some of Russia’s best-known celebrities.

The prosecution of Kirill Serebrennikov, the artistic director of the , an

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