Home News Two Russian women performed a play. Then the state stepped in to...

Two Russian women performed a play. Then the state stepped in to help.


Director Berkovich comes from a family of advocates — her mother and grandmother were human rights activists, her father a poet. On the first day of the full-scale Russian invasion, Berkovich was arrested and jailed for 11 days for holding a poster that read “No to War” and allegedly refusing to obey police who asked her to leave. Accompany them to the station. She also wrote anti-war poems.

Playwright Ms. Petrichuk rose to fame in Moscow theater circles in 2018 when she gave her first reading at the Lyubimovka Theater Festival and began to receive recognition and awards.

Both women have repeatedly asked that their detention be changed to house arrest. Ms. Petrichuk suffers from scoliosis, while Ms. Berkovich is the mother of two adopted teenage daughters whom she met at a summer camp for orphans, when she and some friends were helping young campers perform a play for potential adoptive families.

“It’s horrible, it’s very hard for them,” Ms. Berkovic’s friend, Ksenia Sorokina, said of the two daughters. “It’s a terrible trigger for them, to keep losing their parents.”

In April, just before the trial began, the two women were added to Russia’s official list of “terrorists and extremists” and their bank accounts were frozen. The list includes Islamic State, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Political opposition figures such as the late Aleksei A. Navalny, the “International LGBT Movement” and Meta, Facebook’s parent company.

Jurenkov, a former artistic director of the Moscow Film Festival, said he expected more such prosecutions. “Once this door is opened, it will not be closed again,” he said. “That’s how a repressive system works.”

@Anastasia Kharchenko contributed to this article.

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