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2 Russian women act in plays. Then the state came to arrest them.

Ms. Berkovich, the director, comes from a family of lawyers – her mother was a human rights activist, as was her grandmother, and her father was a poet. On the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ms. Berkovich was arrested and jailed for 11 days after holding a poster that read “No War” and accused of disobeying police officers. asked her to accompany them to the station. She also wrote anti-war poetry.

Playwright Ms. Petriychuk became famous in the Moscow theater world in 2018, when she read for the first time at the Lyubimovka theater festival and began winning recognition and awards.

Both women have repeatedly requested that their detention be converted to house arrest. Ms. Petriychuk has scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, and Ms. Berkovich is the mother of two teenage adopted daughters. She met them at a summer camp for orphans, where she and some friends were helping the young campers put on plays for potential adoptive families.

It’s terrible, it’s difficult for them,” Ksenia Sorokina, a friend of Ms. Berkovich, said about her two daughters. “This is the terrible reason why they continuously lose their parents.”

In April, shortly before the trial began, both women were added to Russia’s official list of “terrorists and extremists,” freezing their bank accounts. The list includes the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, political opposition figures like the late Aleksei A. Navalny, the “international LGBT movement” and Facebook’s parent company, Meta.

Mr. Durnenkov, the former artistic director of the Moscow festival, said he expected more prosecutions of this type. “Once this door opens, it will not close again,” he said. “This is how the system of repression works.”

@Anastasia Kharchenko contributed reporting.


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