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House arrest of director Serebrennikov: "The highest punishment that one could think up"

For a year now, director Kirill Serebrennikow has been under house arrest in Moscow, which has now been extended. Actress Franziska Petri is friends with him and considers this to be "unfair to heaven screaming".

       By Paul Katzenberger, Moscow



    At the award ceremony of the Berlinale, she represented this year the Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov: The actress Franziska Petri ("Leo and Claire", "The Account") had pulled a paper bag with the likeness of the Russian director over his head, She wanted to indict his house arrest in his home country, which is completely unfounded from the perspective of many observers. Petri and Serebrennikov have been friends since shooting together for the movie "Adultery" in 2010, which was also helped by the fact that a short time later, he became their neighbor in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district, where he has a second home. Serebrennikov is accused by the Russian authorities of having embezzled state funding for a theater project. But many see the measure of an uncomfortable critic in this case. For a year he is under house arrest, which is extended again and again. Last time this Tuesday.


    SZ: Mrs Petri, you are friends with Kirill Serebrennikow personally. Do you know how he is doing? Do you have contact with him?


    Franziska Petri: Unfortunately not. Only his lawyer and his father have that. It's about shielding him from any contact with the outside world. You can neither call him nor reach him by e-mail. There is no communication possibility.


    They are among those who have always tried to draw attention to the case of Serebrennikov. Did that effect anything in your view, in Russia or in the West?


    What is meant by effect? The only thing I can do is make my environment and industry aware that this is happening. But it could have an impact on the Russian government – I have little hope for that. It's all about demonstrating strength. That she has the power to simply lock up an artist and forbid him to work.


    You think the Russian government wants to deliberately show that it has the last word?


    I agree. As far as I can understand the legal situation, she is completely absurd and screaming unfair to the sky. It's about saying, "Although we can not prove anything, even though we manipulate witnesses and falsify statements, we still have the power to extend this house arrest over and over, to infinity, if we want." It makes me very angry and I feel incredibly helpless.


    At least in the West, this demonstration of the power of the Russian state is not doing well.


    I hope so. But I also heard voices in Germany – even from colleagues – who talk about some professors from Russia who claim that Kirill was actually suppressing these insanity sums. That would be all right, and such people would have to be taken out of circulation.


    Even if one considers that there is something in the allegations, then the accused has at least the right to a due process, which in the case of Serebrennikov has not appeared anywhere for more than a year.


    It's clear that that's not what it's all about. Otherwise, the process would already have been scheduled. Instead, the authorities run this game, which seems like a farce to me. I do not want to rise above Russia, because whether we have a constitutional state in Germany, I do not know exactly. In my opinion, it is very difficult to create justice and justice everywhere. Nevertheless, that would not happen to a director in Germany.


    In addition to the almost complete contact ban for Serebrennikow also an Internet ban. Does he ever notice how much support he gets from the film and theater scene?


    I'm assuming that because he reacts directly to it. At his last court hearing, he thanked him and turned directly to his supporters. He told them, "You always wish me the strength to hold it all, and I wish you the same, and you hold it, too, because that's very important to me." Obviously, his lawyer collects the wishes that are being addressed to him from the whole industry to stand up for him.


    It is well known that in Russia it is sometimes not possible to do things without corruption. Why are you so sure that the accusation of embezzlement against Kirill Serebrennikov is unfounded?


    Because this accusation could probably be blamed on any cultural worker, if you wanted it. Kirill and his co-workers got money for the project "Platform", with which they wanted to promote the Russian theater. In the context of this, quite a lot of stagings have taken place, which can be proved because there are records or premiere posters. Nevertheless, some of these performances doubt that they were even realized.


    That should be pretty easy to determine.


    Correct. There is a Midsummer Night's Staging whose existence is in doubt. However, there are quite a few people who have seen this performance. They were in there and testify on Facebook under the hashtag "#IchwarbeiPlattform". What proof do you want?


    If the allegation of embezzlement is not tenable: Why are the Russian authorities taking action against Serebrennikov? What bothered her so much about his work?


    It is about removing him as a political spirit from society. As I know him, he has never minced words and has always been very open about his views and homosexuality in his theater. The only thing that could be accused to him is to say, "You took the money but you are not still."


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