Cirque du Soleil may be banned in Russia

Cirque du Soleil may be banned in Russia
The performance of Cirque du Soleil in Los Angeles Photo: Rich Fury / AP

According to Director of the Big Moscow Circus Zapashny, the joint project of Mikhail Gutseriev and Cirque du Soleil will have a negative impact on the Russian circus and sports. “We sort this out separately,” President Vladimir Putin said in response.

During a meeting of the Presidential Council on Culture and Art on December 15, the Director of the Big Moscow Circus, Edgar Zapashny, said that the opening of the Canadian Cirque du Soleil's stationary stage in Skolkovo is “unacceptable and wrong.” Transcript of the meeting is published on the website of the Kremlin. According to him, it will negatively affect the Russian circus and sports.

Zapashny noted that the opening of the Cirque du Soleil site in 2019 had previously been announced by Russian billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev. "No one bothers them to come here with temporary tours, they have been performing here for more than ten years," Zapashny noted. “Investments that Mr. Gutseriev intends to give would be useful for Russian art,” he added.

In response, President Vladimir Putin said that he did not consider it viable to create a permanent Cirque du Soleil base in the country and as a struggle for the market. The head of state supported Zapashny’s position, adding that he will sort it out separately.

He also drew the attention of Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky to this problem. “This is essentially a struggle for the market. To watch is one thing, and letting them develop is a completely different story,” Putin said.

In 2019, it is planned to open the Amphion concert hall for 8500 seats. Its construction is carried out under the control of the A.N.C. Corporation and Amphion LLC companies, which are part of the Mikhail Gutseriev’s Safmar group of companies. Anchutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Cirque du Soleil are also participating. The website of the project notes that the hall is designed for sports competitions, corporate events, and performances of Cirque du Soleil. RBC sent a request to the representative of the Safmar group.

Cirque du Soleil was founded in 1984, and its international headquarters is located in Montreal. Construction of the Amphion concert hall is conducted in the urban settlement Novoivanovskoe, situated in the Odintsovo municipal district of the Moscow region. Skolkovo is located there.

The principal owner of the Safmar group, Mikhail Gutseriev, is ranked 24th in the rating of 200 richest businessmen in Russia, according to Forbes. The magazine estimates his fortune at $4.8 billion.

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