A theatre director and a playwright have appeared in courtroom accused of justifying terrorism with a play they first staged in Moscow again in 2020.

The trial of Zhenya Berkovich and Svetlana Petriychuk is the primary high-profile case since Soviet occasions to be primarily based on the contents of a theatre manufacturing.

Their supporters imagine the prosecution is a part of a Kremlin-led cultural purge.

“It is absurd,” Elena Efros, Zhenya’s mom, informed Sky Information outdoors the army courtroom in east Moscow.

“I’m certain [the witnesses] will say all the things essential to show, so far as doable, the absurdity of this accusation,” she stated.

The play, referred to as Finist, The Courageous Falcon, is about Russian girls who turned radicalised and travelled to Syria to marry Islamic State fighters. It’s primarily based on the transcripts of actual police interviews.

Elena Efros, Zhenya's mother
Picture:
Elena Efros, Zhenya’s mom, says the case towards them is ‘absurd’

To start with, it was met with vital acclaim. It received two Golden Masks awards – Russia’s reply to the Oliviers and Tonys.

It was even recommended by the Russian jail service, in keeping with Petriychuk’s lawyer, who informed a earlier listening to it had been learn to inmates at a penal colony in Siberia.

However then Russia invaded Ukraine.

Berkovich and Petriychuk had been arrested in Might 2023, regardless of the play now not being staged. State-appointed consultants had combed by way of the textual content and located “traces of Isis ideology” and “radical feminism”.

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On the time, buddies stated it was a smokescreen, believing they had been detained for Berkovich’s anti-war poetry and former protests.

Natalya Livshits was amongst round a dozen supporters who had been at this listening to. She did not know the ladies earlier than they had been arrested however started sending them letters quickly afterwards due to her “outrage” at their case.

“This should not occur,” she stated. “That is why I come to each listening to.”

Members of the media had been allowed to briefly movie contained in the courtroom earlier than the trial bought underneath approach.

Berkovich and Petrichyuk had been locked contained in the glass cage, referred to as “the aquarium”, the place defendants are at all times positioned.

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The pair appeared relaxed as they often laughed and gestured to family members.

To her mom, Berkovich made a “cat” image – V-signs with the index and center fingers on each palms, with one behind the opposite.

“They appear nicely,” Berkovich’s mom stated. “They’re assured, brave, cheerful.”

She added: “This verdict would not depend upon us, on what occurs in courtroom, however on how the celebrities align.”

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