Fascination of art: How Mikhalkov runs his private business?
Mikhalkov has never accepted the epic failure of Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel and decided to incarnate his artistic concepts in a cognominal tourism project. Budget funds are already flowing into the director’s pockets.
Nikita Mikhalkov is a truly unsinkable person. As soon as hard times have begun for the Russian Authors’ Society (RAO), which used to be close to him, he immediately found a new source of income. The director remembered of his main profession. Old memories suggested Mikhalkov not to create art but earn money. The failed movie Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel – or its remnants, to be specific, – will become his new money-making machine.
Remnants of the movie scenery looking more like construction debris – this is all what reminds today of the film Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel – a project with the cost over $42 million. Now the Citadel tourism cluster will be built in the Pavlov district of the Nizhny Novgorod region instead of the wooden scenery painted a la concrete. The tourism cluster will incarnate the director’s creative concept unappreciated by the general public. As per Mikhalkov, the visitors will see a menacing fortress with a spa, swimming pools, and other recreation infrastructure behind its walls. Mountain-skiing trails will be established nearby and artistically decorated with barbed wire and anti-tank obstacles.
But the heart of the recreation cluster will be an Academy of Motion Picture Arts named after Nikita Sergeevich to educate those actors and directors whom Mikhalkov calls his people. The Academy will be constructed first. Studios with stages depicting artistic explorations of the master will be built – barracks, a poverty-stricken village, and of course, a provincial town with a quay a la the 19th century, where the everyday life of the Russian nobility goes on. A whole Mosfilm studio for a single director will be created with an epic scale – which is a signature style of Mikhalkov.
Some people call Mikhalkov a living personification of merchant Paratov – one of his old roles. The difference is that Paratov was throwing his own money about – while Mikhalkov prefers budget funds. His personal friendly relations with the President – which Mikhalkov emphasizes by all means – is another reason behind the generosity of the government. It allows easily making friends among governors and high-ranked officials. For instance, according to RBC Information Systems, as soon as Nikita Sergeevich acquired Temino-Severnoe hunting enterprise in almost deserted Mytnitsa village of the Vologda region, the regional government has immediately allocated 14 million rubles to construct a bridge in this village. Vyacheslav Pozgalev, then-Governor of the Vologda Region, explained the construction by his care for a single elderly lady living there. However, no one remembered of the woman cut off from the mainland before the arrival of the famous director to the village.
Citadel of omnipotence
Actually, such a humble amount is a rare occasion for Mikhalkov. Normally his projects cost billions of rubles to the country. To justify such expenses, every step and every gesture of Mikhalkov come amid his care of the fate of Russia. The Citadel cluster, whose cost is 7 billion rubles, is not an exception. Patriotic ideas will be implanted not only by the barbed wire, but also by an education program – undoubtedly, developed personally by the master. While adult tourists enjoy active or passive recreation, their children will be taught political awareness. In accordance with the genre of Burnt by the Sun 2, the future Citadel will be in the midst of war – this time, an ideological one. The director has already announced his foe – Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center in Yekaterinburg. By the way, being sensitive to political trends, Mikhalkov called for condemnation of Yeltsin policies back in February. So how could the government abstain from supporting the mouthpiece of the new ideology?
The Citadel became the main feature of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and has all chances to become the final nail in the coffin of the economy of the Nizhny Novgorod region. The Citadel is advertised as a project involving private investments – that is why it was presented at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum–2016. No one had seen private investors yet, but the budget funding has already commenced. Aleksander Gorokhov, the Principal General of Citadel Limited Liability Company, the builder of the future tourism cluster, has confirmed the funding from the regional budget in his interview to NN-Radio. The Nizhny Novgorod region, whose debt to the Federal Budget exceeds 67 billion rubles, will allocate 1.4 billion rubles for the cluster construction.
We would like to note that this is not a social project – although the authors emphasize this aspect of the future cluster most of all. The Citadel will spread out on 30 hectares of land, and most of that area will be occupied by shopping booths, sports grounds, and the entertainment zone. Of course, all these facilities will generate income for Mikhalkov personally. The region can only hope that Mikhalkov would be an honest tax payer. However, the very first tender related to the Citadel project kills any such hope.
The cost of the tender to develop and produce an architectural model of the Citadel (later presented at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum) was over 2 million rubles. The only participant and winner of the tender was Citadel Limited Liability Company belonging to Mikhalkov. There are no doubts that Mikhalkov is its owner because both Citadel Limited Liability Company and Temino-Pavlovskoe Limited Liability Company belonging to Mikhalkov have the same Principal General – the above-mentioned Aleksander Gorokhov. Therefore, first millions from the Nizhny Novgorod regional budget have already dropped into the pocket of tireless Mikhalkov. The epic saga began.
The man at the helm
Mikhalkov hasn’t forgotten his other patriotic project – Edim Doma (Eating at Home) food chain. In fact, the idea of this chain belongs to Andrey Konchalovsky and Yulia Visotskaya, but Nikita Sergeevich was entrusted to raise budget funding for it. Mikhalkov hasn’t failed his brother and added a fresh idea to the business project: Edim Doma transformed into a crusade against McDonald’s which is ideologically hostile to the Russian spirit. The food sanctions just increased the social and political importance of the project. The brothers have promptly written to Vladimir Putin asking to allocate a humble amount of 1 billion rubles for it. The President promised a credit of 700 million rubles in a state bank with governmental financial assurance. However, apparently the business has stumbled of something. Mikhalkov is still hopeful to get the billion from the budget and claims that the project is currently being elaborated and will be launched in 2017. Of course, Mikhalkov does not even consider attracting private investors as an option.
According to Vedomosti newspaper, citing an unnamed director close to Mikhalkov, friends often ask Nikita Sergeevich to be their business partner. That is why Mikhalkov is involved into numerous business structures unrelated to cinema, including his shares in Bradbury Lab and ChelProm–Diamond. Mikhalkov brings subsidies, credits, and other benefits of the governmental support to any business he enters.
Apparently, some partners of Mikhalkov also expect him to provide a complete invulnerability for them. For instance ChelProm–Diamond company, where Mikhalkov owns 10% and his son-in-law – 19%, has attracted attention of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) in 2013. A criminal case was initiated against ChelProm–Diamond due to illegal diamond sales. According to the investigation, the damages exceeded $1 billion. The outcome of this case is still unknown. Today debt-stricken ChelProm–Diamond passes through the competition management phase.
Still, Mikhalkov managed to make some money on the criminal case against ChelProm–Diamond. He filed an anti-defamation lawsuit against several large media companies for mentioning his name in relation to this case. The lawsuit brought Mikhalkov 400 thousand rubles. Once upon a time Paratov – played by Mikhalkov – said: “There is only one life, and we must use it”. The role has been learned perfectly. Nikita Mikhalkov actively uses his life, his friends, and his Motherland.
FSB has conducted a linguistic analysis of the part of Ksenia Sobchak’s press conference where she spoke about the Crimea, and reasoned that she was not actually calling for violating Russian integrity, a source familiar with the examination findings told BBC Russia.