Laws and Justice

Russian Playwright and Theater Director Sentenced to Six Years in "Justifying Terrorism" Case

Main image to the post Russian Playwright and Theater Director Sentenced to Six Years in "Justifying Terrorism" Case

Russian authorities sentenced renowned playwright Svetlana Petriychuk and theater director Yevgenia Berkovich to six years in prison on charges of "justifying terrorism" related to their play, "Finist, the Brave Falcon." The play told the stories of Russian women who became "ISIS brides," drawing from real case materials and court verdicts, aiming to explore the complex reasons behind women converting to radical Islam. However, during the trial, state-appointed "expert witnesses" claimed the play promoted radical feminist ideas and glorified terrorists, leading to the harsh sentencing.

Apart from their work on the play, Yevgenia Berkovich has also been involved in antiwar activities, including writing antiwar poems and staging demonstrations against the conflict in Ukraine. This additional activism may have contributed to the persecution faced by Berkovich and Petriychuk, showcasing a broader crackdown by the Kremlin on individuals who critique government policies or speak out against the war. The defense plans to appeal the verdict, with lawyer Ksenia Karpinskaya emphasizing the innocence of the two women despite the challenging prospects for a successful appeal.

The sentencing of Petriychuk and Berkovich marks a significant case in modern Russia, as it represents one of the few high-profile criminal prosecutions of cultural figures related to a play since the Soviet era. This trial is part of a larger campaign by Russian authorities to suppress dissenting voices critical of President Vladimir Putin's actions or the ongoing war in Ukraine. The persecution of artists, such as firing those who oppose the invasion from state-funded cultural institutions and blacklisting dissenting performers, highlights the severe consequences faced by those who dare to challenge the government's narrative. On the other hand, individuals who support the war have received favorable treatment from state entities, illustrating the government's bias in rewarding compliance with its agenda.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09