Category Archives: Eastern and Western European States, USA, Canada

Hungary: Free SZFE!

The Hungarian government continues to expand its influence on universities and cultural institutions in the country. A reform is planned to transform the Theater and Film University in Budapest (SZFE) into a foundation close to the right-wing national government of Victor Orbán and to better adapt the challenges of the market for the whole educational sector. An adjustment process originally planned for six months was shortened to three months and the university senate was excluded from all structural discussions by the supervisory board of the future foundation appointed by the responsible Ministry of Innovation and Technology, writes Anna Lakos, the long-standing Hungarian ITI director. The supervisory board is headed by the director of the Hungarian National Theatre Attila Vidnyánszky, an actor of the National Theatre, a film producer and the directors of two oil companies.
The occupation of the university by its students to protest against the complete loss of independence, experienced solidarity from theatrical artists from all over the world (#FreeSZFE). Here is the text of the SZFE “Magna Charta Universitatum”. The “Call for Academic Freedom in Hungary”  has been signed by more than 100 playwrights. 

Public sources: New York Times online, Nachtkritik.de

Serebrennikov Convicted of Fraud

On Friday, June 26, the Moscow judge gave Kirill Serebrennikov a suspended sentence to three years probation and a three-year ban on leading any state-backed cultural institution in Russia. However, the judge said that the defendants would be required to repay nearly 129 million rubles in compensation for the money allegedly embezzled. Co-defendants Yury Itin and Konstantin Malobrodsky were also found guilty of conspiring to mislead the culture ministry for “personal enrichment” and also sentenced to probation. The fourth defendant, Sofya Apfelbaum, was convicted of negligence.

Artists around the world expressed their solidarity, an online petition in Germany got 57.000 subscribers.  The representative of the EU foreign service Peter Stano and Germany’s Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance Bärbel Kofler expressed their demand for a fair and transparent trial. 

Sources: The Guradian, NY Times, German Federal Office, TASS

Prosecutor Seeks 6 Years for Kirill Serebrennikov

The case of the “Platform” Projekt at the Gogol Center’s “Seventh Studio” Kirill Serebrennikov has been going on for more than three years (see also our former posts at ACAR). On June 22 the judicial investigation has ended. The state prosecution considered proven guilty persons involved in the  case of Serebrennikov, asks to plead Kirill Serebrennikov, Alexey Malobrodsky, Yury Itin and Sophia Apfelbaum and sentence them with following punishments: 6 years of imprisonment in a penal colony with a fine of 800 thousand rubles for Serebrennikov , 5 years for Malobrodsky and 4 years for Itin and Apfelbaum as well.
At the same time the prosecution corrects the amount of damage from 133 million 237 thousand rubles to 128 million 974 thousand rubles.
The court will pass a verdict in the coming days.

The Gogol Center has published Kirill Serebrennikov’s speech at the Meshchansky court on June 22nd: Platform Lessons 

 

Sources: Russsian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI), Russia Today (RT), Gogol Center’s Facebook page

Albanian National Theatre Demolished

On Sunday, May 17, the historic National Theatre in Tirana has been demolished. Since 2018, artists and citizens have staged the longest active protest in the history of Albania to protect the theatre from demolition by the government (see ACAR posts 1, 2)  The government moved in amidst the emergency situation and lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus crisis. Resisting citizens, sitting in front of the theatre, were removed and detained. The Albanian National Theater is officially part of Europa Nostra’s 7 Most Endangered European Heritage Sites list for 2020.

Albania’s President Ilir Meta has called the demolition of the National Theatre by his own government “a constitutional, legal and moral crime that cannot be granted amnesty.”, done by the Mafia. The decision to demolish Albania’s National Theatre was approved in secret and was not on the agenda for the meeting of the Tirana Municipal Council.

Sources: exit news 1, 2, 3, 4; Europa Nostra, video 

Yulia Tsvetkova is the Freedom of Expression Awards Arts Fellow 2020

The 20th Freedom of Expression Awards were held online on Thursday 16th April as a digital celebration. The Russian theater director, visual artist, and activist from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Yulia Tsvetkova (see our posts 1, 2),  has been awarded the 2020 Freedom of Expression Award Arts Fellow. Index on Censorship works with the fellows during the awarding year to provide long-term, structured support. 

The other 2020 fellows are: Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei (campaigning); Turkish lawyer Veysel Ok (campaigning); 7amleh (digital activism) and OKO press (journalism).

Watch Yulia’s statement here