Russian Playwright and Director Convicted for "Justifying Terrorism" in Isis Brides Play

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A military court in Moscow recently made headlines as it convicted two Russian artists, Svetlana Petrichuk and Yevgenia Berkovich, for "justifying terrorism" in their play titled The Brave Falcon Finist. The play was inspired by Russian women who went to Syria in the mid-2010s to marry fighters of the terror group Isis. The court sentenced both Petrichuk, aged 44, and Berkovich, aged 39, to six years in prison for their involvement in the production.

Despite the prosecutors arguing that the play depicted Isis favorably and thus justified terrorism, the artists maintained their innocence. Berkovich, during one of the hearings, expressed that the play was aimed at preventing terrorism, a sentiment echoed by Petriychuk, who stated that she wrote it to shed light on the events portrayed in the play. The trial, which was partially held behind closed doors, has sparked concerns about artistic freedom within the country.

Following their conviction, Petrichuk and Berkovich plan to appeal the ruling, though their lawyer, Ksenia Karpinskaya, acknowledged the challenges ahead, stating that there is "little hope" for a successful appeal. The play in question, which was supported by the Russian culture ministry and had won the Golden Mask award, faced criticism from the authorities leading to the artists' arrest and subsequent imprisonment. The support for the artists, including a petition with over 16,000 signatures, highlights a broader debate around artistic expression in Russia amidst increased pressure on the artistic community following the country's invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09