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Russia Detains Theater Director, Adding to Fears of a Crackdown

Investigators also claim that the project for which the company had received state funds, a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” had never even been staged. The production, which had many dates in 2012, was acclaimed by critics and was nominated for awards.


Kirill S. Serebrennikov in Cannes, France, in 2016.

Guillaume Horcajuelo/European Pressphoto Agency

It is not clear if Mr. Serebrennikov will be kept in detention or placed under house arrest until his trial. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Aleksandr Arkhangelsky, a literary critic and TV host, wrote on Facebook that the authorities’ actions affirmed Mr. Serebrennikov as a great director.

“Though I think they are ruining his fate,” he added. “Those who do this cover themselves with shame.”

In July, the Bolshoi Theater postponed a much anticipated ballet, directed by Mr. Serebrennikov, that depicted the life of the dance legend Rudolf Nureyev and that touched on themes of homosexuality and AIDS. The reaction in the news media and in cultural circles was that the government had frowned on a ballet celebrating a gay man who had fled the Soviet Union.

Vladimir G. Urin, general director of the Bolshoi, said on Tuesday that he hoped Mr. Serebrennikov would remain free.

“This is a very gifted, talented man,” Mr. Urin told the news agency Interfax. “The Bolshoi considers him a big artist.”

Mr. Serebrennikov won a special prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year for “The Student,” about religious extremism in Russia.

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