Transparency International convicted Russian theaters art directors of paying fees to themselves
Among such heads, there are Kirill Serebrennikov, Konstantin Raikin, Oleg Tabakov, and Nadezhda Babkina.
The Transparency International — Russia center published an investigation in which it was established that heads of 14 Russian theaters regularly receive government contracts from their theaters and pay fees to themselves. The organization addressed the Prosecutor General’s Office with statements about violations of the federal legislation. The Department has found such violations in Serebrennikov's Gogol center, Moscow Cats Theatre, and Theatre of Fedor Volk under control of Evgeny Marchelli.
According to the organization, actors and directors as individual entrepreneurs conclude government contracts with their own theaters on the statement of performances, acting or rent of rooms or requisites. In 2013-2017 14 theaters concluded more than 60 such contracts for the sum of over 97 million rubles ($1.6 million).
Thus, art director of Pushkin Theatre Evgeny Pisarev received 480 thousand rubles ($8 thousand) from his theater for one play, artistic director of Helicon opera Dmitry Bertman – 440 thousand rubles ($7 thousand) and head of Gogol center Kirill Serebrennikov – 345 thousand rubles ($5 thousand).
Oleg Tabakov and Oleg Menshikov received more than 600 thousand rubles ($10 thousand) a month for playing in their theaters, Nadezhda Babkina – 520 thousand ($9 thousand) a month. Yuri Kuklachev signed two contracts with his own son for rent of rooms on 3.76 million rubles ($65 thousand). At the same time, all defendants in the investigation also got paid as artistic directors of the state theaters.
All contracts were concluded with the only supplier on an uncontested basis. The contracts were proved by the fact that artistic directors of theaters can produce plays and play roles better than others. Deputies of artistic directors signed documents on behalf of theaters.
In 2016 the authorities of Moscow allocated subsidies to the state theaters for the sum of more than 12.5 billion rubles ($217 million). About 80% of the cost of the tickets are paid from the capital budget what provides availability of the prices to ordinary citizens. Since June 2016 council of artistic directors of theaters and the concert organizations at the department of culture takes part in the distribution of subsidies for new theatrical projects. The chairman of the board is the artistic director of Helicon opera Dmitry Bertman. Evgeny Pisarev and Oleg Menshikov are also at the presidium.
Transparency International considers that in this situation there is a conflict of interests: heads of the budgetary cultural institutions participate in acceptance of the decision on assignment of funds to their own theaters. At the same time, the norms concerning the conflict of interests do not extend to heads of theaters as they are not considered as government employees.
In total the organization has checked 135 theaters of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Signs of the conflict of interests were revealed in 14. 12 of them are founded by the Moscow Department of Culture.
Following the results of the check the prosecutor's office has passed three recommendations of violations in theaters: to the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation concerning Theatre of Fedor Volkov, and to department of culture of the Government of Moscow in the relation with Gogol center and Moscow Cats Theatre.
According to Prosecutor's Office, Kuklachev and Serebrennikov did not notify the management on transactions in which they were interested. Other heads agreed on the transactions with department though it did not resolve the conflict of interests. Some, including Marchelli and Menshikov, agreed on transactions after their conclusion.
Transparency International – Russia emphasizes that the investigation is not connected with arrests of the management of Gogol center in the case of The Seventh Studio. However, the organization considered that concealment of results of the investigation would contradict its principles.
On October 17 the Basmanny District Court of Moscow prolonged house arrest to director Kirill Serebrennikov, the chief accountant of The Seventh Studio Nina Maslyaeva and her former CEO Yuri Itin till January 19, 2018. Detention of ex-director of Gogol center Alexey Malobrodsky was prolonged for the same term.