In a statement, the investigators said that several undisclosed individuals had stolen $3.5 million in state funds that from 2011 to 2014 had been awarded to Studio Seven, a theater production company that Mr. Serebrennikov led at the time. The studio’s former administrative director and accountant were detained on Wednesday.
In a country where everything is seen as controlled by the Kremlin, the developments caused leading cultural figures to rally around Mr. Serebrennikov, who feared the raids might signal a crackdown on artistic freedom.
Many artists and theater and film directors voiced their support of him in letters to President Vladimir V. Putin.
“He is an artist, someone who is not, in my opinion, responsible for the financial sphere,” said Vladimir G. Urin, the director of the famed Bolshoi Theater, one of those who wrote a letter to Mr. Putin. He said what happened to Mr. Serebrennikov was “wrong,” the Interfax news agency reported.
During a ceremony at the Kremlin on Wednesday, a renowned Russian actor, Yevgeny V. Mironov, passed a letter to Mr. Putin as the president pinned a state award to his jacket.
Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, denied that the Kremlin had been involved in the raids. “In this case I can say only one thing: Only a court can accuse anybody of anything,” he said.
Mr. Serebrennikov has staged many theater productions that explore Russia’s current political life, including the plight of people who find themselves on the fringes of society. Conservative activists and commentators in Russia have often criticized his work.
His latest film, “The Student,” depicting the hypocrisy of religion, won a special prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
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