MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin is rejecting allegations that a prominent Russian theater and film director under investigation for embezzlement is being pursued for his iconoclast views.

Kirill Serebrennikov's productions were reviled by conservative circles, which saw them as decadent and unpatriotic.

Serebrennikov has been under house arrest in August on charges of scheming to embezzle about $1.1 million in government funds allocated for some of his productions. He rejected the charges, which raised fears of a return to Soviet-style censorship.

Putin, speaking at Thursday's meeting with members of Russian arts community, said the probe is only intended to check whether the law has been observed.

He said Serebrennikov's ballet about dancer Rudolf Nureyev, which recently premiered in Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, was proof that the case against him has no ulterior motives.