May 07, 2023

Detained for Criticising ISIS


Detained for Criticising ISIS
Theater director Zhenya Berkovich. OVD-Info English, Twitter

Award-winning theater director Zhenya Berkovich and acclaimed playwright Svetlana Petriychuk were arrested in Moscow for "promoting terrorism" after staging a play criticizing the Islamic State (ISIS). Both women have been outspoken critics of President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine. Berkovich was previously detained for attending anti-invasion demonstrations.

In 2020, Petriychuk compiled a play from real stories of Russian women who became ISIS brides, "Finist, The Bright Falcon." Its title and story are based on a Russian folk tale. The plot portrays how the women were seduced and brainwashed into extremism, even at the cost of their own freedom, and what in Russian society allowed this to happen. One of the most infamous scenes includes a character getting married to a man in Syria via Skype. An estimated seven thousand Russian women were recruited by ISIS.

In 2022, Berkovich and her theater company, "Daughters of SOSO," won two Theater Union of Russia's Golden Mask awards for her directing work on the play. However, for authorities, the play was the straw that broke the camel's back. The feminist director went on a solo picket for 11 days after Russia invaded Ukraine and has written popular anti-war poetry on Facebook.

On May 5, 100 people protested outside the court where Berkovich was being tried, including Nobel-Laureate and head of Novaya Gazeta, Dmitry Muratov. The director was ordered to serve two months in jail.

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