Corrupt-thievish principle of сonfiguration. Siloviki going to the circus 

Corrupt-thievish principle of сonfiguration. Siloviki going to the circus
What kind of punishment the administration will face? Photo: The CrimeRussia

Since December last year, Russian State Circus Company scandals are still not settled. While the public is discussing the affiliation of the Zapashny family, St. Petersburg security forces are going to raid the Circus on Fontanka. The occasion is a fraud with double selling of the tickets.

Ponies run round and count profits

The law enforcement agencies interest origins from the intervention of one of the State Duma deputies. He put a document on the table of Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, from which it became clear that 14 of the 40 state circuses are in poor condition since the parent organization – the Russian State Circus Company (Rosgostsirk) does not finance them. At the same time, there are revenues from the illegal disposal of circus property, which are received by some third parties.

Since then, the country's circuses face scandals. Thus, operatives of the Department for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption detained the financial director of the Astrakhan circus for receiving a bribe in the amount of 85 thousand rubles. After this scandal, the head of the Rosgostsirk Dmitry Ivanov was dismissed and his deputy Sergey Belyakov took his place. He is well known in St. Petersburg.


Sergey Belyakov

Even if omit the journalistic investigations carried out by various publications on Belyakov who has a fake diploma in higher education at the Krasnoyarsk Commercial Institute, his other merits already look like ‘tightrope walking.’ Back in December 2018, he simultaneously held three positions - the artistic director of the Big St. Petersburg State Circus, artistic director of the Federal State Educational Company Russian State Circus and director of a separate division of the Rosgostsirk in St.Petersburg. As the old residents of the entertainment industry say, it’s impossible to sort out this pile of posts “without a magician.”

Independent sources believe that the illegal profit in the St. Petersburg circus is flourishing due to the participation of Sergey Belyakov. 

So, in addition to the traditional buffet, you can take pictures and ride animals, buy various goods, make face painting for children in the lobby. Viewers pay in cash, without a ticket office. According to preliminary calculations, such a business brings up to 10 million rubles in cash per month and 120 million rubles per year. Naturally, all these services are provided with the approval of circus management. As the olders of the industry say, if this is not organized by someone from the administration, then the dealers pay for the right to trade in the lobby. All these revenues go off the institution's budget, and the artists do not receive anything from it. True, this financial problem concerns not only the Petersburg arena but also other circuses throughout the country.

So, president of the Interregional Creative Association of Circus Bands Mikhail Skibin addressed with a statement about the embezzlement of budgetary funds in Rosgostsirk to director of the FSB of Russia Alexander Bortnikov. However, it is not yet known whether any operational checks are carried out on the facts described in the statement.

Cash cow

As we wrote above, the former head of the Big St. Petersburg Circus got three official roles. It is very convenient for double purchases. So, it is known that one of the three circus enterprises headed by Belyakov, the Big St. Petersburg State Circus FGBUK, is currently undergoing the liquidation stage.

But as they say at the circus forum, this did not prevent him from purchasing the Zapashny brothers ShambALa for the Circus on Fontanka two times. Once on behalf of the Russian State Circus, the second time on behalf of the aforementioned company. The same story happened with another program of the Zapashny brothers - CircusUS 2.0.


No one argues that these programs are spectacular, exciting and famous by the public. But according to the law, the liquidated federal enterprise cannot carry out public procurement. According to sources, this is similar to money laundering.


The budget of the Russian State Circus is about 1 billion rubles, which are transferred from the state budget and circuses in various cities of the country bring it and another 1.5–2 billion rubles. The Rosgostsirk covers more than 70 enterprises, including 41 stationary and 11 mobile circuses.

The fact that the circus community faces financial is confirmed by the Federal Antimonopoly Service which is actively suing the Rosgostsirk. We are talking about the seizure of the Circus on Fontanka building, hotels and land in favor of the Federal Agency for State Property Management in St. Petersburg. “Belyakov hurries up,” the circus members write on his forum, “so that I can rent everything, bypassing the state.” By the way, in December 2018, the FAS won the courts in two instances. The courts have confirmed that the transfer of Rosgostsirk property bypassing the official auction is prohibited. As it became known, documents on suspicious transactions were received by the FAS from the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation.

Battle at the Fontanka

Scandals in the Big St. Petersburg Circus on Fontanka is not a new one. Over the past four years, several scandals broke up. In 2016, employees of the Department of Economic Security and Anti-Corruption raided this place. Militiamen seized documents related to alleged embezzlement of funds in 2014–2015 under one of the government contracts. Siloviki were interested in the construction of a circus structure, which was supposed to be built during the renovation of the main building. The agreement was signed with the Baltstroy company, owned by oligarch Dmitry Mikhalchenko.


The Big St. Petersburg Circus on Fontanka

Following this event, director of the circus, Mikhail Smorodkin was fired by the decision of Minister of Culture Medinsky. It was officially announced that he was fired because of the sabotage. Note that the employees of the Circus on Fontanka called the distrust the leadership of the Rosgostsirk as one of the reasons for the reluctance to move into the number of branches of the company.

A little earlier, in 2015, the Circus on Fontanka lost one of the most prominent Russian artistic leaders, Vyacheslav Polunin. But at that time the case was in the internal confrontation of the team and the famous playwright. Also, the zoo defenders scandal also took place there. The media got footage filming the cruel beating of animals. On Circus Day, the Center for the Protection of Animal Rights Vita posted an 11-minute video Behind the Scenes of the Circus, filmed with a hidden camera, on which a kangaroo and a monkey are beaten. The rehearsal was filmed.


Vyacheslav Polunin

The story ended very curiously. Animal defenders were accused of lobbying the interests of the Cirque du Soleil. The same story is happening today within the conflict between the Zapashny brothers and billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev, who wanted to build a platform for foreign circuses, including Du Soleil. Edgar Zapashny accused the oligarch of lobbying their interests.

All evening onstage

In the meantime, the circus community is buzzing and is in a state of severe stress. “For the last two years, only Zapashny have reigned on the posters of the St. Petersburg circus. As if there are no other programs in the country,” olders say indignantly.

Supporters of the brothers, on the contrary, argue that the current situation is the machinations of former director Mikhail Smorodkin. So, he allegedly is trying to regain the post of director of the Circus on Fontanka. Ordinary workers of the circus industry write that the idea of the Rosgostsirk has outlived itself. “Its corrupt-thievish principle is obvious, why it was not disbanded as harmful? After all, this is a real leech on the body of the state, combining various schemes of siphoning off budgetary millions, a black cash register and all sorts of tax evasion schemes,” they wrote.

Today, the Zapashny brothers' program, Epicenter of the World, is once again hitting the Big St. Petersburg Circus. People still say that it was again purchased using a double scheme. According to rumors, this information is already checked by law enforcement. They say that the FSB will conduct the audit.


But Rosgostsirk and its leadership have something to fight for. Literally, in December 2018, Vladimir Putin publicly declared that the state "would subsidize the federal circus network." In the conditions of increasing state subsidies for the industry, with the necessary knowledge and effort, it is possible to earn billions.



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