Members of RAO spoke up
After the high-profile arrest of the Head of RAO (Russian Authors’ Society) Sergey Fedotov, the organization members called for cessation of criminal situation regarding author’s fees.
The Russian Authors’ Society reported an attempted takeover of the organization. The current RAO administration saw a threat in the sponsored statement of an initiative group, which was published on August 1 in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Authors of the appeal proposed convening an extraordinary RAO conference to solve the outstanding problems in the RAO, “take urgent measures of financial recovery of the organization and resolve other pressing issues.”
In its turn, the current administration of the Authors Society stated that the appeal “is anonymous and is a provocation against the members of RAO, aimed at destabilizing the organization’s work.” The organization also believes that convening and holding of an extraordinary conference contradicts the Russian legislation and the Charter of RAO, referring to the fact that the decision to convene a conference may be taken only upon the availability of more than half of signatures of the RAO members (more than 13 thousand, the CrimeRussia’s note) or by the decision of the Audit Commission or the director general of RAO.
Meanwhile, during the news publication, the following initiators’ contacts were provided under the RAO members’ statement: the poet and writer Aleksander Vulyh, poet Sergey Sashyn, composers Igor Matet and Evgeniy Kobylyanskiy.
The text by initiative group of authors calling for cessation of the “criminal situation that has evolved and continues to evolve in RAO” was also published at newrao.ru in order to terminate the authority of the Director General of RAO Sergey Fedotov, who had been arrested on charges of swindling, as well as to generate new governing bodies.
The same RAO members had earlier posted a petition on change.org entitled Stop the chaos in RAO, directed to the authorities, including the Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev, the Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinskiy, and the Prosecutor General Yuriy Chaika. One of the authors of the statement, namely the composer Sergey Sashyn, illustrated his actions by a glaring example. In May 2011, he sent a letter to the Head of RAO Sergey Fedotov with a request to explain why he was credited with just 4 064 rubles for April-May 2011. The composer also noted that in January 2011 his concert was held in the Lomonosov Drama Theater, Arkhangelsk, featuring more than 20 of his songs. RAO received an interest from the ticket sales, while, according to his own words, Sergey Sashyn did not receive a dime from this event. “I have accepted such treatment from RAO for a long time; I have always been an author who gives away a large percentage of my miniscule charges for the maintenance of RAO; but apparently, you can push me just so far.” According to Sergey Sashyn, RAO has yet to respond to this request and has not provided a report on how the royalties had been calculated.
According to the initiators of the extraordinary conference, despite the fact that Sergey Fedotov had been arrested for embezzlement of RAO’s property, the organization’s activities have not changed: “We are still unable neither to manage the organization nor participate in its activities...” Currently, the organization is headed by V. V. Fedotov and the corrupted the Authors’ Board. RAO management makes nothing but empty statements. Conducting an independent audit, fixing the accountability, introducing software that will allow making royalties collection and distribution system transparent, is out of question. It is noted that authors currently do not receive statements and royalties, to which they are entitled.
Members of the RAO Authors’ Board have previously posted to the CrimeRussia that the rights of the Authors’ Board are rather formal; in fact, decisions are taken by a narrow circle of managers, namely, Sergey Fedotov’s mother Vera Fedotova.
“Fedotova has never been interested in the authors and their works, using which her son has been “sweeping the gold,” and which enabled him to buy castles and palaces, yachts and business jets, houses and apartments. Poets and composers received a pittance; more like throwing scraps of food to hungry dogs... It is sad and offensive, that this scoundrel has been covered by a respected man, a well-known and honored worker of the Russian film industry; the shine of the golden calf and the promise of profiteering totally deprived him of decency.”
It should be reminded that CrimeRussia has previously posted the investigation of a close relationship between Sergey Fedotov and the President of the Russian Union of Right Holders and the Chairman of the Union of Cinematographers Nikita Mikhalkov. After Fedotov’s arrest, Mikhalkov signed a petition to mitigate the preventive measure against the head of RAO; a similar appeal was signed by 16 members of the RAO Authors’ Board. “Today, the Moscow City Court considers the appeal of Fedotov’s lawyer aimed at amending his preventive measure. More likely, the lawyer will support his argument with the sixteen signatures of the corrupt members of the Authors’ Board and the Besogon’s (Nikita Mikhalkov) petition. But there are ten thousands of us, the ordinary writers! And we’re not going to keep silent,” stated the initiators of the RAO extraordinary conference convocation in their petition.
At the time of publication of this material, the petition Stop the chaos in RAO had over 35 thousand votes.
The Director General of the Russian Authors’ Society (RAO) Sergey Fedotov was indicted on June 30, 2016 under Part 4 of Art. 159 of the Russian Criminal Code (Swindling on an especially large scale). The maximum sentence under this article is up to 10 years of imprisonment. At the request of the investigator, the Tagansky Court will keep him the director general in custody until August 17.
The prosecutors want the former Russian Federation Council member to go to prison for 14 years instead of 9 and pay a 500-million-ruble ($8.8 million) fine instead of 70 million rubles ($1.2 million).