A Moscow court has ordered the arrest of Oscar-nominated film producer Alexander Rodnyansky and theater director Ivan Vyrypaev, accusing the two of “spreading false information” about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to the Associated Press, both men — who each reside outside Russia — will be placed in custody once they are either detained by Russian authorities or extradited from abroad.
A source close to Rodnyansky said the producer is currently in Cannes, but he could not immediately be reached for comment.
Rodnyansky currently splits his time between Ukraine, Europe and L.A., where his production shingle AR Content is based. The Kyiv-born producer, who spent nearly three decades living and working in Russia, fled the country just days after its invasion of Ukraine, after receiving a tip that his outspoken criticism of the war had landed him in the Kremlin’s crosshairs.
In Oct. 2022, Russia’s Ministry of Justice declared him a “foreign agent.”
The Kremlin has relentlessly sought to stifle opposition to its unprovoked war since the first tanks rolled into Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year. More than 15,000 Russians were arrested at anti-war protests in the early days after the invasion, as the government swiftly cracked down on dissent.
Though he safely fled the country, many of Rodnyansky’s friends and associates were detained and questioned over offenses as trivial as a social media post opposing the war. Artists, actors, filmmakers and celebrities have been especially singled out by the government and pro-Kremlin media.
After launching a prolific media career in Kyiv that saw him directing documentaries and founding Ukraine’s first independent TV network, Rodnyansky went on to become one of the most influential producers in Russia. His collaborations with filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev landed him Academy Award nominations in the foreign-language category for “Leviathan” and “Loveless.”
In Moscow, Rodnyansky left behind an estimated 15 series in development and production. “I cut off my business ties with Russia,” the producer told Variety last year. “I left behind everything. The company, the house, everything. Everything that I had.” However, his L.A.-based company, which has a first-look deal with Apple to produce multilingual international shows for Apple+ TV, has not been impacted by the war’s fallout.
Vyrypaev, a well-known playwright, director and actor living and working in Warsaw, has also been a vocal critic of the war.
Speaking to Variety last year, Rodnyansky said that a return to Russia could be possible “when the war is over, [and] when Putin is over.” “But right now, I don’t think it’s possible,” he added. “I do believe Russia should be punished in many ways. It’s deserved.”
After the Moscow court ruling, a return in the near future seems even less likely.