Russian prosecutor seeks six years in jail for theatre duo accused of justifying terrorism

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian state prosecutor has asked a court to jail two leading Russian theatre figures accused of "justifying terrorism" for six years, their lawyers said on Friday.

Director Zhenya Berkovich and playwright Svetlana Petriychuk were arrested in May last year over an award-winning play "Finist the Bright Falcon," which tells the story of Russian women who married Islamic State fighters.

In April 2024 the pair was added to Russia's official list of "terrorists and extremists".

The prosecution case is based partly on testimony from an anonymous witness who secretly recorded the production on his phone and handed it to the authorities.

The witness, testifying under the pseudonym "Nikita", has told the trial he believed the play depicted terrorists as victims, and the Russian state and society as guilty of pushing young girls into joining Islamic State.

Fellow artists, human rights defenders and free speech campaigners have rallied in support of Berkovich, 39, and Petriychuk, 44, who both deny any guilt.

In June, the judge in the trial approved a request from prosecutors to ban journalists and members of the public from attending the remainder of the case.

The next court hearing for the case is scheduled for July 8, according to Petryichuk's husband, Yuri Shekhvatov. It is unclear when the court will announce its verdict.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Maxim Rodionov; Editing by Andrew Osborn)