Note from TTT: Alexei Malobrodsky, former director of Moscow’s Gogol Center, has been in pretrial detention since June 2017, accused of embezzling money. The following article, which was originally published by the Russian journal Teatr, includes statements by Malobrodsky and his attorney Ksenia Karpinskaya at his September 6, 2017, court appeal.

The first arrests connected to the “Sedmaya Studiya” [Seventh Studio: a theatre troupe founded by Kirill Serebrennikov] case took place on May 24: the troupe’s ex-director Yuri Itin and ex-bookkeeper Nina Maslyayeva spent the night in a detention facility, charged with large-scale fraud. The next day, on the basis of a court decision, Itin, who pleaded innocent, was put under house arrest, while Maslyayeva, who pleaded guilty, remained in the detention center. One week later it became known that Maslyayeva had agreed to cooperate in the investigation. Further searches, questionings, and arrests took place — including the arrest of Sofia Apfelbaum, the director of Moscow’s Russian Academic Youth Theater, at the end of October —based on the testimony of this woman, who, diagnosed with diabetes, asked not to be brought to the court sessions so that she would not have to hear speeches by foreign attorneys, or by her own defense lawyer, asking for a lighter sentence. “Take me to my cell,” she repeated at the September 9 appeal session at the Moscow City Court; it’s painful to listen to even on the audio recordings.

Maslyayeva testified that Serebrennikov and company, who conceived and carried out a project for the support and promotion of contemporary art, unique among others not just in Russia but in all of Europe, are a gang of criminals who originally devised this scheme in order to embezzle millions of dollars from the project’s budget. It is on this absurd testimony by the former bookkeeper that a version of the investigation is being built.

Otherwise, the case against Serebrennikov is not just weak, it has no evidence whatsoever — at least, none that has been presented publicly. But the procedural violations are numerous, and the defense counsel cries out about this as if into a well: all they hear in return are their own echoes and the nervous laughter of the “support groups” in the courtroom.

Understanding that the testimony of one elderly, ailing woman is not sufficient, the investigators frantically searched for a second weak link. This role was to be filled by Seventh Studio’s former general producer, Aleksei Malobrodsky, who in March 2015 left his post as director of the Gogol Centre. Like Maslyayeva, Malobrodsky was immediately taken into custody, with the arm of justice grasping him tightly – in the case of this former producer of Seventh Studio, blatant violations of procedure were allowed: Malobrodsky himself, as well as his lawyers, has repeatedly mentioned the pressure from the prosecution but received the incredibly cynical response that “the accused’s health is good enough that he can remain in solitary confinement.”

Meanwhile, this small, shy, quiet theatre producer, who has a spotless reputation with his colleagues, has displayed a heroic resilience during the investigation. Moreover, he has used the platform provided by the court to speak to the illegal nature of the investigation.

Below is a transcript, originally published in Teatr, of speeches from the court session dedicated to the examination of appeals regarding the retention period of Malobrodsky, Itin, and Maslyayeva. The session took place on September 6, 2017, at the Moscow City Court. The judge was Svetlana Aleksandrovna.

Judge: The question at hand is the possibility of reviewing the appeals without completing a second examination of the documents that were investigated by the court during the first forum. Does the defense object? Attorney Lakhova?

Defense Attorney Karpinskaya: Respected court, may I speak alongside Lakhova? I would like to direct your attention to the fact that the prosecution now, with regard to the objections to our appeals, stated that with the case file examined by the court during the first forum, the validity of suspicions regarding Malobrodsky is confirmed, and also that there are some documents evidencing his involvement and in general about the very existence of this crime. Because I can list the documents presented in the case file, as well as the documents not presented there, but not any of the documents to which the procurator just referred, stating that Malobrodsky must be kept in custody, I believe that it is necessary to make public all of the documents that were examined by the court during the first forum. It is our right to do so. We categorically object to the examination of the case without the publicization of these documents, because this publicization is obligatory for the examination of this case in light of Article 6 of the Convention on the Defense of Human Rights — specifically, “On Fair Trial.” […]

The judge: Malobrodsky, do you agree with your lawyers?

Malobrodsky: Your Honor, this is not the first time that the investigation has, with the support of the prosecutor, made recourse to non-existent facts. Not one piece of concrete evidence was presented. It is all a sham, hot air, based on references to supposedly sufficient but in fact nonexistent grounds. I do not just agree with my lawyers — I demand that an end is put to this disgrace, that the investigation and the prosecutor’s office stop lying, that they operate with real facts. Thank you.

Judge: That is, you agree with your lawyers?

Malobrodsky: I demand that the specific documents to which this crook has referred be presented.

Judge: Investigator.

Investigator: Your Honor, at the court’s discretion.

Judge: Prosecution.

Prosecution: I object to the redisclosure of the presented materials, because the court and all participants in the trial are already acquainted with them. There are no convincing arguments in favor of reinvestigation. The petition is not specified.

Judge: The court has decided to examine the appeal without a second examination of the materials investigated by the court during the first forum, since the defense’s arguments come down to assessing the investigators’ request.

Defense Attorney Karpinskaya: Respected court, I have an objection to your actions, because in accordance with page 389, paragraph 13, a decision to review an appeal without verification of documents can only be taken with the consent of both parties. And so I do not give my consent to review this appeal without verifying the documents, being one of the parties in the proceedings. You are depriving me of an opportunity to which I have a legal right. I object to your actions. […]

We have learned a lot during this hearing, which has lasted several days. I would like to summarize everything that was said, as well as to assess not only those documents presented in the court during the first forum, but also the ones that were presented to you during the most recent court hearing — the documents that were already read before the Moscow City Court. You know, this whole case seemed strange to me from the very beginning. All of my colleagues, as well as Aleksei Arkadievich, have already spoken about this. But all the same, I want to draw your attention to what took place during the examination of this case. Everything began on July 17 in the Basmanny Court [Referring to the Basmanny district of Moscow — Trans.]. There a petition was put forward — my colleague Lakhova has already spoken at length about this petition — that contained not one mention of Aleksei Arkadievich Malobrodsky. And what was this petition? It was simply an exact copy of the decision to bring Itin and Maslyayeva in as defendants. That is, the investigation, having been given this case by the Investigative Committee of the City of Moscow, did not bother to verify who initiated it, who presented what — and simply reproduced, at this petition about the extension of Malobrodsky’s time in custody, that which was declared in the ruling that opened the criminal case against Itin and Maslyayeva. These people are not my clients, but I consider them to be just as innocent as my client is, and the charges against them to be just as absurd as those brought against him. And, abstracting from what is occurring, I believe that Nina Leonidovna [Maslyayeva] is framing herself and the other defendants, and the investigation only affects her insofar as she endlessly changes lawyers — here, at this hearing, we see the fourth. I do not wish to say anything about my colleague’s professional abilities, but when Nina Leonidovna said that she was satisfied with everything in this court session and wished to remain in retention — this simply struck me as odd.

Maslyayeva: That is not what I said.

Karpinskaya: Then what did you say?

Judge: You are getting into polemics.

Karpinskaya: It is possible that Nina Leonidovna meant something else, but it seemed to be exactly what I reported. If a person does not support the appeal in which someone is requesting a change in their pretrial restrictions and does not appeal against these pretrial restrictions with the help of a different attorney, that means that the person agrees that she should remain in the isolation ward. We have been taught this. Now, apparently, times have changed and customs have changed with them. But it seems heinous to me that this person should slander herself under pressure from the investigation. And Nina Leonidovna’s testimony gets more exaggerated every time she makes it. At first, Nina Leonidovna simply speaks, then she adds something to it, and then, in her last statement, made before the Moscow City Court, Nina Leonidovna said that Seventh Studio was founded with the intention of embezzlement. And the investigation is presenting these statements as evidence for the validity of the suspicion, which must be verified by the court. What needs to be said? First: Alexei Arkadievich [Malobrodsky] — and he, in all likelihood, agrees with me — was not acquainted with Nina Leonidovna until he became the producer of Seventh Studio, and so it is unlikely that he planned the founding of Seventh Studio as an embezzlement scheme alongside her.

I will give some background on the origin of the name “Seventh Studio.” It may be that Nina Leonidovna is unaware of this, but Seventh Studio was thought up as an extension of those studios of the Moscow Art Theatre that already existed in various historical periods: Stanislavski ran the First Studio, Vakhtangov ran the Third, on the foundation of which the theatre now known to us as the Vakhangovskii was founded. And, I believe, the Seventh Studio was founded not in order to concretize an embezzlement scheme, but to continue the tradition that began in the Moscow Art Theatre. In addition, it is possible that both Nina Leonidovna and the investigation would have understood the goals of the creation of the Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization (ANO) Seventh Studio differently had they known that even before the emergence of this ANO as a legal entity, students from Serebrennikov’s course at the Moscow Art Theatre Studio-School, called “Seventh Studio,” performed the play Otmorozki [“Thugs”], based on the work by Zakhar Prilepin, with Serebrennikov. I want to emphasize this: the play was performed before the ANO “Seventh Studio” had been founded as a legal entity — although the investigation probably does not need to know about this. The investigation does not know what distinguishes a government contract from public funding, and why in 2011 Seventh Studio had no public funding whatsoever. And so, what does the investigation tell us? That a group of people worked together to found a studio specifically for the purpose of embezzling public funding. And we have further seen a government decree, written by Prime Minister Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, in which it was decreed that Seventh Studio receive a separate section of the budget for 2012–14 for the promotion of contemporary art. Precisely for this. And there is correspondence with the Minister of Finance, with the Minister of Culture. And I am afraid to ask: who, then, did Kirill Semenovich Serebrennikov, together with Malobrodsky, deceive? The prime minister? They didn’t understand what these public funds were being spent on? Or was Seventh Studio specially founded with the help of the government, the Minister of Culture, and the Minister of Finances for the purpose of embezzling public funds? I want to ask the prosecutor’s office, all the people who, having worked there, were not aware of the objective of the founding of Seventh Studio — is that why they are not included amongst the accused? Or did they not understand what was going on when these resolutions were signed and these budgetary funds were allocated to the project?

But this is a lyrical digression about Nina Leonidovna’s testimony, the testimony whose contents allegedly confirm the validity of the suspicions against Malobrodsky, as well as against Nina Leonidovna herself. I do not know how one could bring oneself to frighten a sick woman so badly that she should want to sit in prison, not even alone, but taking other respected people down with her. I cannot understand how her statements can be taken as reasonable grounds for suspicion. But I want to draw your attention to the decree by the European Court of Human Rights, a decree made during Alexei Navalny and Pyotr Ofitserov’s case against the Russian Federation, which declares that people who have entered into a pretrial agreement — and Nina Leonidovna did sign such an agreement: the case files confirm this document’s existence — their testimony cannot be used as a testimony against other persons implicated in the same case, because the pretrial agreement prevents them from changing their testimony in any way. The completion of a pretrial agreement gives them the option of receiving a far lighter sentence than they might otherwise. Therefore, Nina Leonidovna’s statements, made under a pretrial agreement, cannot be used as evidence in any case, much less as evidence against another defendant.

I further wish to draw your attention to the statements made by Nina Leonidovna’s two daughters. One of them miraculously gave a testimony to Investigator Sereda on July 17 from 10:00 am to 12:45 pm in the building of the detention center —  even though we saw Investigator Sereda in the building of the Basmanny Court at 12:00, when, according to the minutes of the court session, the hearings related to the present case began. Well, perhaps they mixed up the time, and at this time they interrogated one of Nina Leonidovna’s daughters, who said it seemed to her that people in black hats were following her, and so on. Nina Leonidovna’s other daughter said the same thing; this daughter, also under strange circumstances, was interrogated on July 12 at 7:00 pm by Investigator Vasiliev, who at that time was located with us in the detention center and was interrogating Malobrodsky. Well, maybe there was again some discrepancy in the time. That these statements about surveillance are fictitious is, in my opinion, totally obvious. And why are these statements being used? Apparently, in order to show that the accused have been putting pressure on the witnesses — on Nina Leonidovna’s two daughters. Otherwise, what purpose would these statements serve in the court of appeal? And attached to this testimony is the resolution of the respected leader of the investigative group, Lavrov, which says that the testimony has been received and that now that testimony must be checked: whether it is true that the girls were followed, and whether these people following them were hired by Serebrennikov, Malobrodsky, and [producer Ekaterina] Voronova, the last one of whom, as we now understand, is under investigation. It stands to reason that all these people met somewhere in June and, some of them by this time already being in prison, decided to stalk Maslyayeva’s two daughters. This is already some sort of theatre of the absurd. But Investigator Lavrov said that we needed to find out who was following the girls. Whether it was found out or not we do not know: there have been no results reported. And I do not understand how an assertion by two girls that someone is following them can be used as evidence in the case of the extension of pretrial retention of other people.

Furthermore, regarding the testimony of Larisa Voikina [Seventh Studio’s Head of Staff — Ed., Teatr], which the respected Investigator Vasiliev related to the case six times. If we look at this testimony, it is written therein that Aleksei Arkadievich Malobrodsky was a very careful person, and so endlessly forced everyone to take inventory of even the money set aside for necessary pieces of scenery: it was all recorded and placed in a thick file folder, and he also made Voikina keep an electronic account ledger. These statements do not indicate that something was stolen; they do not justify suspicion. They indicate that during Aleksei Arkadievich’s period as producer of Seventh Studio — and this was, unfortunately, not a long time, just a little over six months — he maintained strict accounting and control: it is possible to verify this, if one wants to, of course. But the investigation, apparently, does not want to verify anything.

Furthermore, I would like to draw your attention to what happened at the court of first instance. As the respected representative of the prosecution has just told us, everything is supported by the evidence collected at the court of first instance. I will not bore you by reading the regulations in full; I’ll just say that it is written here that the documents presented to the court testify to the validity of the suspicion of the preliminary investigation authorities in the involvement of Malobrodsky, Maslyayeva, and Itin in the commission of the crimes that incriminate them, as evidenced by the testimony of Voikina contained in the presented materials. Voikina, as I have already said, claims, in any case, that Malobrodsky kept track of everything: everything was placed in folders and counted. I have already spoken about the testimony of the accused Maslyayeva, but I would like to repeat that her statements are constantly being refined by the investigation and recorded in court-appropriate language: they decided to create a group of guilty parties, they called Maslyayeva, she consented. When a person is called to participate in a group of guilty parties, she of course immediately agrees to steal money. In general, they worked everything out, and then told the prime minister “we want to steal money” — and he, apparently, immediately gave them that money from the state budget.

Furthermore — the 2011 government contract for 10 million rubles allocated to the ANO Seventh Studio. What is he saying — that Malobrodsky stole something or kidnapped him?

Furthermore — the contracts and agreements. Here is an agreement regarding the grant. Really, between an agreement to a provision of 206 million rubles for the entire period plus a government contract for 10 million rubles, the ANO Seventh Studio received 216 million rubles in total during the period 2011–14. How this confirms that someone committed theft, I do not know.

Next, there are invoices for the transfer of the money. Do they make it possible to conclude that Malobrodsky, Maslyayeva, and Itin committed these crimes?

It was not for nothing that I asked you to present these documents, because they do not demonstrate anything — at all! A government contract and an agreement about subsidization prove nothing except that there was a government contract and there was an agreement about subsidization, that money was allotted and noted in the budget.

Furthermore, respected court, there is the decision to bring Malobrodsky in as the accused, wherein it is written that he stole money meant for the staging of the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that in fact this event never took place, and the money intended for it was never spent. What can I say? After the public — yes, respected procurator, the whole case is in the media: whether you like it or not, the public knows about it —  well, when the public presented numerous pieces of evidence that the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream did in fact take place, that a large number of people attended it, when this issue was so widely discussed, what did the investigation decide? That something inconvenient had happened. And what did Investigator Vasiliev tell me when I asked him: “Tell me, please: we have two charges against Malobrodsky, one for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a new resolution that appeared on July 18 — so what, exactly, are you accusing Malobrodsky of?” Vasiliev answered me: well, the ruling on Dream –  that doesn’t matter, it was a false lead. I am speaking — I want to emphasize this — about the Investigative Committee of the City of Moscow.

Now, concerning the last court, whose ruling we are appealing.

On July 17, during the court session regarding the extension of Malobrodsky’s time in custody, it was made known to Itin and Maslyayeva that Malobrodsky had spent almost a month in the detention center before any criminal proceedings against him were instituted. The court session carried over onto July 18.

On July 18, Judge Dudar declared that she did not have enough documents to make a decision. Thereupon the colonel of justice appeared in the court in the form of Senior Investigator Lavrov, who brought with him a criminal case initiated on July 18 at 10:30 am. The new case was connected with that initiated on May 19, 2017, against Itin and Maslyayeva, and it concerned events occurring between 2011 and 2014. It already mentioned three defendants — Itin, Maslyayeva, and Malobrodsky, all three of whom were implicated in the embezzlement of public funds allotted to the ANO Seventh Studio. The general procurator, Malofeyev, refused to support the investigator’s request to arrest Malobrodsky alongside the others. Judge Dudar declared the situation regarding the lack of a criminal case against Malobrodsky a “technical error” and decided to arrest Malobrodsky and Maslyayeva, as well as to put Itin under house arrest.

According to the Procedural Code, a petition regarding the extension of pretrial restrictions must be a petition of those restrictions already decided on. A new ruling, made the day after the court session, cannot be used as proof of reasonable suspicion and of involvement in a crime, nor can it be used as proof that someone may abscond or destroy evidence. A decision to open a new criminal case cannot be used as evidence of facts. This document merely allows the investigators to continue the investigation. But when Judge Dudar emerged from the deliberation room and said she did not have enough documents in order to make a decision, two documents were presented to her: the decision to open a new criminal case on July 18 at 10:30 am and, in a clever move, a decision to merge the new case with the old one and assign them the same case number. Respected procurator, your colleague Procurator Malofeyev, who is the first deputy head of the department for supervision of the activities of investigative bodies, was appalled and said that he could not support this decision. And he said — there is a recording of his saying this — that amid such circumstances — amid the absence of a criminal case at the moment of the court’s examination of the extension of pretrial restrictions — he could not consider Malobrodsky’s arrest to be legal. Whether you like it or not, this is what he said, and there is a recording of it, and it is also reflected in the court record, albeit in an abridged form. And really, the Bylaw of the Plenum of the Supreme Court, Paragraph 13, indicates that the court may not examine a case in the absence of an order to open that criminal case. And there was no such order — I myself don’t know whether the investigation simply forgot this or whether they were mistaken. I’ve been working for many years, and I have always been told that a procedural infraction is a watertight argument. Everyone can have her own opinion on the evidence, but a lack of procedural documents is an unambiguous basis for a decision regarding an appeal to be cancelled.

We always hear: the court will figure it out. Well, if now the court issues a ruling on the preventive measure against Malobrodsky on the basis of documents that cannot be the basis for such a decision, how will the court suddenly figure it out? Most likely, the lawyers and procurators all interpret the Bylaw of the Plenum of the Supreme Court differently. If the investigation cannot sort out the difference between a government contract and grant-in-aid within four months, then why should it be the one to deal with this case?

They tell us: Malobrodsky was involved in a lot of different investigative procedures before July 17 — really, there were three questionings: two on one day and one on July 12. Then Malobrodsky was questioned again: they presented him with a new ruling on his being brought in as a defendant and familiarized him with the order so as to initiate a new case (the order that was appended to the case in court on July 18). Meanwhile none of the defendants were familiar with this ruling up until this point. Accordingly, Malobrodsky must be held in custody on the basis of these documents and of the words of Nina Leonidovna, who hopes to receive preferential treatment, not realizing that framing herself and others will bring her no benefit. If we now look at the practices in place regarding people whose cases have to do with economic affairs and who have concluded pretrial agreements, many of them, having concluded such agreements, receive longer terms than their peers who have not concluded such agreements. So this is an erroneous position, but the investigation tries to use her, pressuring an elderly woman who would, of course, prefer to be at home.

Regarding individual personalities. This is not the first time I have been present at the extension of an arrest, and I am always interested in the question: at the moment, 38 people — producers, theatre critics, directors — have vouched for Alexei Arkadievich, saying that he is trustworthy and will not run off anywhere. And the procurator replies: yes, very good, but taking into account his personality, he should be kept in custody. I wish to understand: what is wrong with this personality? Maybe there are some secret facts about Aleksei Arkadievich’s personality of which we are not aware? The court has not disclosed them to us, the procurator will not say. But from what we have heard — and the court session is open, access to it is direct – it seems to me that Malobrodsky has a more than adequate character. Regarding the possibility of escape via Israeli citizenship, about which they tell us constantly: truthfully, Aleksei Arkadievich does have Israeli citizenship, but it is obvious to everyone that on the territory of the Russian Federation, no other [non-Russian] citizenship is valid. A person with a Russian passport, located on the territory of the Russian Federation, is a citizen of the Russian Federation, and the Israeli embassy will not intercede on his behalf.  Aleksei Arkadievich’s Israeli passport is, like a foreign travel passport [as opposed to an internal passport], is at the disposal of the investigation. But here is my question: how would he escape — will he cross the border on foot? And why can he not be put under house arrest by means of an electronic bracelet, which gives the same measure of restraint as imprisonment and does not give the arrestee any possibility of performing independent actions? Why must Aleksei Arkadievich be held in custody, although the case shows no evidence that he tried to evade arrest, much less to destroy evidence? Why was the bail that he offered to pay in the court of first instance — I was ready to pay it and I explained to the court that I knew all the consequences of applying the bail to the income of the state — so why does this bail not deserve attention when deciding to use a preventive measure against Aleksei Arkadievich, if not for the purpose of depriving him of liberty?

I do not understand what is going on. And I believe not one of the defendants in this case is guilty; in fact, I do not believe that any crime took place at all. Nina Leonidovna was simply a weak link. Do you know what the European Court of Human Rights told us? How all cases in Russia are investigated — they find one weak person, she concludes a pretrial agreement and gives a testimony; at this point, they stop investigating altogether. And if Nina Leonidovna had not testified, how would the investigation demonstrate that the crime in question had actually been committed? In this regard, I would like to remind you that mercy is more important than justice, especially the false justice pursued by the investigative committee. And the violent measures taken against Aleksei Arkadievich, who has not killed anyone, has committed no great crimes, and who worked at Seventh Studio for only half a year — the holding of this man in custody is a biased and unfair measure of restraint. Malobrodsky is not trying to escape to anywhere and he never had any intention of doing so: he is ready to give the investigation a testimony at any time, his lawyers are always present; there has never been an instance in which he or one of his lawyers did not show up for a court date. Thus, I believe the Basmanny Court’s decision to retain Malobrodsky should be repealed.

Defense Attorney Lakhova: […] I have just one small addition to make. When the investigation tells us that in the ruling about the extension of Malobrodsky’s retention in custody, it is written that from February 1 to April 8, 2014, the head bookkeeper of Seventh Studio, Maslyayeva, following the directions of the General Director and the General Producer — Itin and Malobrodsky, respectively — provided, with the help of unidentified persons, the formulation of this and that and the transfer of money, it makes me question the prosecution, which claims that all the materials submitted to the court have been studied, that they are legitimate and reliable. How in 2014 could Malobrodsky, who worked for Seventh Studio only until April 2012 — everyone already knows this, and the attached employment record book, as well as the investigators themselves, can support this — have given any sort of instructions to Maslyayeva? This is just one small example of how the investigation is being conducted. And so we call for a decision to be passed by the court not on the basis of unsubstantiated phrases, but on that of verified information […]

Judge: Malobrodsky.

Malobrodsky: Your Honor, I have already participated in five separate court proceedings over these two and a half months. And every time I conscientiously try to comply with the rules of these proceedings. In particular, I proceed from the assumption that integrity, Your Honor, has a place in the court — has a place and has a meaning. I also proceed from the assumption that without exception, all participants in the hearing must be guided by the law, and all are equally responsible for their words and deeds.

If this is so, then is it not time to demand that the prosecution, that the investigation finally cease to operate in vague, meaningless, “open” statements and begin to operate with facts and with tangible evidence? How far can you indulge these unscrupulous attempts to fabricate false accusations against me and disrespect my civil rights? While my defense, at each of these court sessions, proves the falsity of the accusation with facts and flawless logic, the investigation — I would say “gang of investigators” — publicly flouts the law, confuses the wording of the charges, confuses the dates and the facts, manipulates numbers and the details of prosecuted criminal cases, and allows procedural violations. To put it simply, they use lies and intimidation. I would correct my lawyer: for two and a half months there have been virtually no investigative procedures. The investigator’s claim that I had multiple opportunities to testify is a false one. Maybe he is referring to what happened on July 25 in the building of the Investigative Committee at № 2 Tekhincheskii Pereulok [“Technological Lane”], where one week after the charges in question were introduced to the court, I was taken to be familiarized with this charge while handcuffed to bailiffs, having been illegally denied an opportunity to seek legal advice in private. Naturally, I refused to testify.

What is more, I am aware that on September 8 some investigative procedures were scheduled to take place in the building of the Investigative Committee. I state here, before the court: I will not take part in any sort of investigative procedure while handcuffed. Yuri Konstantinovich Itin’s attorney spoke about the rights of his client, about compliance with rules that would protect his client’s health and eliminate threats to his life, and so on. And there is one other sort of right. There is the right to my human dignity, the right to the presumption of innocence, the right to legal defense. All of these rights have been indiscriminately violated during this case by so-called investigative procedures. Here, Your Honor, I repeat and will continue to repeat: I am ready to give all the information that I have, I am ready to give a truthful testimony, I am ready to answer any concrete questions that the investigation may have.

To the proposals “Confess to something already” and “Show us something to do with our last charge, which consists entirely of transferring two dozen transactions and half a dozen transactions of subsidies to Seventh Studio” I am not ready to reply. I do not understand this sort of conversation.

It is high time to switch to concrete questions. Apart from the ludicrous episode with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I was not asked about even one concrete event. I do not understand what, in such circumstances, it is possible to discuss with the investigation.

In addition, the investigation has performed a handful of other feats aside from those already mentioned. My wife having, without any justification, been made a witness in the case, she and I are refused visits and telephone conversations. Besides this, they have seized my and my wife’s property — property that during the renovation of our apartment was kept in a storage locker. This consists of books, pots, autumn boots — that season is beginning now. What is this, if not an attempt to pressure me, Your Honor? That is precisely what it is.

I will not repeat my lawyers’ statements regarding the unjust ruling by the Basmanny Court — this is the apotheosis of disregard for the law; it seems to me that that is apparent to everyone, everyone who either listened to my lawyers’ speeches or was present for those two days in the Basmanny Court. Meanwhile, I have remained in prison for these past two and a half months. Meanwhile, for some unknown reason, the materials my wife uses for her work — her laptop, her tablet — have been seized and are being held by the investigation. Our projects — mine and my wife’s — are production projects, and the means of our modest existence have been kept from us for these two and a half months. What is this, if not an attempt to pressure me? That is precisely what it is. What is the goal? My imagination is not expansive enough to allow me to imagine a goal other than my following in Nina Leonidovna’s footsteps and framing myself and my colleagues from Seventh Studio. But as I said before the Basmanny Court and will repeat now: this is not going to happen; none of your attempts to force me to do this will work. I am ready to work with the investigation, ready to give explanations, ready to testify. I am ready to answer concrete questions — to answer truthfully, to answer with the aim of establishing the truth. Your Honor, really, you need to distance yourself from this gang of investigators, both out of respect for the law and simply out of sympathy [for me]. I am asking you, please, to make a just, legal decision: repeal the Basmanny court’s ruling on my being held in custody. If you, for some reason — you have such reasons, maybe, probably, I don’t know — believe that some sort of measures should be taken against me, then please, don’t let those measures involve detention. That is all I have to say. Thank you.

The court recesses for deliberation.

Judge: The Basmanny Court’s decision on the extension of the accused Malobrodsky’s preventive detention until October 19, 2017, remains unchanged, and the defense’s appeal is dismissed.

Alexei Malobrodsky. Photo credit:

Translated from the Russian by Rose FitzPatrick. This article originally appeared on the website of the Russian theatre journal Teatr. Translated and reprinted with permission.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by Zhanna Zaretskaya.

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