Moscow: theatre director Berkovich detained

Poet and theatre director Zhenya Berkovich and playwright Svetlana Petriychuk have been taken into custody in Moscow. Berkovich has been charged with "justifying terrorism" because of her staging of the play Finist, the Brave Falcon. In their adaptation, Russian women marry IS fighters online and follow them to Syria. The production won Russia's prestigious Golden Mask theatres award in 2022. Commentators are appalled.

Open/close all quotes
Echo (RU) /

You might as well arrest Dostoevsky

Russia's critical public is outraged, and rightly so, fumes journalist Alexander Baunov in a Telegram post republished by Echo:

“This is not happening for [alleged] financial reasons, as we've seen when people want to get their hands on culture - for example when [director] Kirill Serebrennikov was arrested for alleged embezzlement - but directly because of the play. Because of a small, complex, avant-garde work of art that not everyone understands, which analyses the psychological and social motives that drove ordinary Russian girls into the arms of 'real men' - i.e. the hawks of IS. This is like arresting Dostoevsky for justifying the murder of old women in Crime and Punishment or terrorism in Demons.”

Arkady Dubnov (RU) /

All this will only get worse

Journalist Arkady Dubnov stresses Berkovich's brilliance on Facebook:

“This is yet another link in the rotten chain of shameful actions aimed at imposing a totalitarian ideology on the country in the absence of any substantial content. ... Heart-wrenchingly brilliant and tragic, anti-totalitarian in its deepest essence, Zhenya Berkovich's art and poetry stands in complete contrast to this hollow 'ideology'. Which means that her poetry, like so many other things, must be banned, destroyed and chased out of the country. ... Just like the poet, we should realise: all this will only get worse.”