Home News Russian director and playwright arrested and charged with ‘justifying terrorism’

Russian director and playwright arrested and charged with ‘justifying terrorism’

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(CNN) A well-known director and playwright has been arrested in Russia and accused of “justifying terrorism” over a play about online recruitment of Russian women to marry Islamic State fighters in Syria.

Yevgenia Berkovich was arrested along with the play’s author, Svetlana Petrichuk, on Friday after investigators alleged the award-winning play “The Finist, the Brave Falcon” had broken the law.

Russian state media TASS reported that the plaintiffs claim the work “romanticized, justified and glorified terrorists” and promoted “the ideology of radical feminism”.

It was organized in 2021 by Berkovich’s private company, with the support of the Union of Stage Workers of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, according to independent news site Meduza.

The play won two “Golden Mask” awards for the National Theater last year. Berkowitz also earned a nomination for Best Director.

Theater critics described the production as “exposing the mechanics of terror”.

Berkowitz, 38, was held on remand for two months until July 4, despite her lawyer’s request that she be placed under house arrest to care for her two adopted and disabled daughters.

The maximum penalty for the charges against her is seven years.

The arrests shocked Russia’s dwindling theater community and prompted the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta to publish an open letter in support of Berkowitz and Petrichuk, calling on the Russian authorities to “persecute murderers instead of poets”.

In another development, authorities in St. Petersburg temporarily closed the Maly Drama Theater with one of its actors, Danila Kozlovsky, under investigation for his anti-war stances.

The Russian cultural scene has faced increasing repression since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Prominent people have been fired from their jobs and some have faced criminal cases.

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