Expulsion from Russian Authors’ Society 

Expulsion from Russian Authors’ Society
Igor Matvienko has been appointed the new president of the Russian Authors’ Society council

Members of the initiative group, who proposed to convene an extraordinary conference of the Russian Authors 'Society (RAO), have been excluded from its ranks.

The Authors’ Council of RAO excluded from the organization the members of the initiative group, who had been calling for an extraordinary conference. The event is scheduled for August 31, 2016. The organizers stated that by doing this they wanted "to take urgent measures for the financial recovery of the organization, to resolve other pressing issues," and to stop the criminal situation with the copyright charges in RAO.

The conflict between the RAO administration and the initiative group resolved at the meeting of the Authors’ Council on August 29. The leaders order to dismiss the reformers — their colleagues, who have been part of the organizing committee of the conference — for the violation of the RAO Charter, namely: poet Alexander Vulykh, musician and composer Igor Mateta, producer Evgeny Kobylyansky, and poet Sergey Sashin. At the same meeting, a new president of the RAO Authors’ Council was elected, producer Igor Matvienko.

Commenting to Kommersant, the new President stated that RAO cannot "let these people, raiders, as you may call them," disrupt the system of payments to copyright owners. "I and the members of the Authors' Council will do everything to save this organization, to prevent certain forces from destroying our dear RAO," said Matvienko. By the way, a year ago he accused the RAO of embezzlement in the amount of one billion rubles and confessed that the scale of theft "made the hairs on the back of his neck bristle, when he saw the documents."

The fact that some members of the RAO united in an initiative group to hold an extraordinary conference was announced on August 1, 2016. The organizers published the purpose for convening a conference on newrao.ru and in the petition " We demand to stop the mayhem in RAO" on change.org. "We cannot continue to watch the corruption spread among RAO managers, who do not hesitate to show each of us their greatness. While we come bowing to them and begging for money, RAO leadership decides how much to give and to whom." Representatives of the initiative group stated that they wanted to "bring order to the organization (RAO), which is actually our agent for the collection and distribution of royalties."

The RAO administration responded in backlash and called the initiative a raider attack. On this occasion, Vera Fedotova, who represented the arrested RAO Deputy General Director Sergey Fedotov, addressed the Ministry of Justice, stating that the main purpose of this conference was to establish illegal control over the organization by dissolution of the existing administration.

On August 21, the head of the initiative group, poet Alexander Vulykh, reported that the site of the conference newrao.ru was under a powerful hacker attack and ended up blocked. According to Alexander Vulyh, the attack was ordered by those "who call us raiders and resist our efforts to change the situation in RAO."

The split in the RAO was clearly manifested after the head of the organization Sergey Fedotov had been arrested. On June 30, Fedotov was charged under part 4 of art. 159 of the Russian Criminal Code (Swindling on an especially large scale). According to investigators, in 2012-2014, the RAO was stripped of its real estate property worth 0.5 billion rubles. Reports suggest that in 2015, the RAO collected about 4.5 billion rubles, of which the copyright owners received only 3.6 billion rubles.

After that, an organization that was once friendly to RAO — the Russian Union of Rights-holders (RUR), led by Fedotov’s long-time colleague, Nikita Mikhalkov — stated that it would break the cooperation agreement with RAO. Earlier, Nikita Mikhalkov said that he had nothing to do with that organization, but signed a petition to soften the measure of restraint against Fedotov, explaining that he was sympathetic to the arrested. However, the relations between the old colleagues deteriorated after RAO had started making threats against Nikita Mikhalkov — either Mikhalkov facilitates the release of Sergey Fedotov from custody, or compromising materials would be published on RUR and affiliated organizations.

Слева направо: Сергей Федотов, Никита Михалков

Photo: from left to right: Sergey Fedotov, Nikita Mikhalkov

Previously, the CrimeRussia had a theory that Mikhalkov’s role in Fedotov’s arrest may be more important than it seemed on the outside.

A source of Kommersant says that the RAO is already aware that they will soon have to replace Fedotov with a new director general. Will it be one of the existing RAO board members or some person close to the famous Russian movie director Mikhalkov? The latter might prove who is behind the dark story of the crisis in RAO and the arrest of Sergey Fedotov.

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