15:54 GMT19 January 2021
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    The French envoy to Russia told Ria Novosti that the recently arrested Russian theater and film director, Kirill Serebrennikov, had a positive impact on Russia-France ties, adding that France was a strong supporter of artistic freedom.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The creative work of the recently arrested Russian theater and film director, Kirill Serebrennikov, has a positive impact on Russia-France relations, French Ambassador to Russia Sylvie Bermann told RIA Novosti in an interview.

    "We think that freedom of art should be respected. Kirill Serebrennikov has a lot of contacts in France, he, particularly, participated in Festival d'Avignon, which is one of the largest theater festivals in the world. His artwork has a positive influence on our bilateral relations," Bermann said.

    The diplomat added that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov discussed the issue of Serebrennikov's arrest during their recent meeting.

    Russia's Investigative Committee detained Serebrennikov in August in the case of embezzlement of 68 million rubles ($1.2 million) in the 2011-2014 state subsidy allocation for the Platforma theater project. 

    Serebrennikov's works have received multiple awards, gaining him international acclaim, and in 2016, his drama film "The Student" was awarded the Francois Chalais prize at the Cannes film festival in France.

    On Russian movie "Matilda"

    Paris is a strong proponent of artistic freedom, French Ambassador to Russia Sylvie Bermann told RIA Novosti in an interview, commenting on the high-profile Russian movie "Matilda," which has been the subject of a heated dispute across Russia over recent weeks.

    "I haven't seen the movie yet, but I want to highlight once again that France advocates freedom of art," Bermann said.

    "Matilda" is a historical drama that tells the story of the fate of ballet dancer Mathilde Kschessinska and her relationship with future Russian Emperor Nicholas II, who was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000. The film is scheduled to go on screens of Russian movie theaters on October 25.

    The movie is regarded by some religious activists as a violation of religious feelings and a provocation against the Russian Orthodox Church.

    On human rights in Russia's Chechen Republic

    Russia should, by all means, necessary hold those who violate human rights in Russia's Chechen Republic accountable for their unlawful actions, France's Ambassador to Russia Sylvie Bermann told RIA Novosti.

    "We have expressed our concern over the situation in the Chechen Republic, particularly over the position of the people belonging to the LGBT community. As far as we are aware, they are subjected to shocking treatment there. Impunity prevails there," Bermann said, adding that "it is important that Russia does everything possible to bring to account those responsible for such violations of human rights."

    Late in May, French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting with to Russian leader Vladimir Putin expressed Paris' concern over the way LGBT community is treated in the Chechen Republic.

    In early April, Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported about mass detentions of people suspected of being homosexual took place in Chechnya. On April 20, Chechen Republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov assured Putin that the allegations of persecution of people based on their sexual orientation were groundless.


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