Two Russian Women Prosecuted By Govt. Over Play

The two women who created “Finalist the Brave Falcon” are now on trial in a Moscow courtroom. They are accused of defending the very behavior they set out to denounce.

They wrote and performed the play with the intention of indicting terrorism. It delves into the twisted minds of violent extremists and the innocent lives they destroy.

For almost a year, 39-year-old director Yevgenia Berkovich and 44-year-old playwright Svetlana Petriychuk—two highly esteemed members of modern Russian theater—have been held in detention. A conviction might result in a seven-year jail sentence.

One of their attorneys and members of Russia’s cultural community have said that this case exemplifies the government’s increasing suppression of free speech after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Those in the cultural sphere who are on the side of the ladies claim that this is unprecedented in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in terms of the actual prosecution of an artistic creation. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other rights groups have all spoken out against the trial, joining prominent Russian figures, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitri A. Muratov and Ms. Berkovich’s former director Kirill Serebrennikov in their condemnation.

The cultural world in Russia was rocked by the arrests of the filmmakers in May of last year. 

Their play delves into the plight of Russian women trapped by Islamic State terrorists in Syria and then imprisoned upon their return to Russia.

In addition to her poetry, 39-year-old Berkovich has spoken out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

An independent Russian trial reporting site, Mediazona, published a transcript of the hearing in which the two ladies stated that they had come to the Moscow military court to combat “terrorism,” not to endorse it.

The 44-year-old Petriychuk maintained her innocence, much like Berkovich.

Since she adopted two disabled teenagers, Berkovich has pleaded with the court to place her under house arrest so that she can care for them.

Yelena Efros, an activist and daughter of activist Blagojevich, called the accusations against her daughter “absurd.”

Nobel Prize-winning newspaper editor Dmitry Muratov started an online petition that over 16,000 people have signed, demanding that the women’s accusations be withdrawn.

Earlier on Monday, Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov spoke out in support of the artists at the Cannes Film Festival.