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Russia sentences director and playwright to 6 years in prison for “justifying terrorism”

A Russian court sentenced a playwright and a theater director to six years in prison on Monday (8) for “justifying terrorism,” concluding a trial that human rights advocates said demonstrated Russia’s intolerance of artistic freedom.

Director Zhenya Berkovich, 39, and playwright Svetlana Petriychuk, 44, were arrested in May last year for producing a play called “Finist, the Brave Falcon” about Russian women who marry Islamic State fighters.

The case was the most high-profile prosecution of Russian cultural figures over the content of their artwork since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in 2022. Both have denied guilt.

The seven-week trial has been criticized by free speech advocates and Russia’s arts community, who said it was politically motivated.

Midway through the trial, Judge Yuri Massin approved a request from prosecutors to close the proceedings to the public due to alleged threats to some participants.

At the start of the trial in May, Berkovich and Petriychuk said they had staged the play because they oppose terrorism, rather than support it.

“I staged the performance to prevent terrorism,” Berkovich told the court. Regarding the terrorists, she said, “I have nothing but condemnation and disgust.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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