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© RIA Novosti. Ruslan Krivobok

$3 million stolen in Bolshoi reconstruction - police

by Anna Arutunyan at 13/06/2013 18:36

Russia’s Interior Ministry has launched a criminal probe on allegations that some 90 million rubles ($3 million) was embezzled during the six-year reconstruction of the Bolshoi Theater that ended in 2011.

The suspected culprit, according to police, is a federal reconstruction agency created and funded by the Culture Ministry. In 2005, the agency allegedly hired PO Teplotekhnik for electrical repairs at the Bolshoi, but the company never carried out the work. Nevertheless, the agency signed off on the work and paid the company 90 million rubles, according to an official statement posted Thursday on the Interior Ministry’s site.

The Bolshoi Theater’s management has distanced itself from the allegation. “The money set aside for reconstruction did not go through the Bolshoi Theater,” RIA Novosti quoted Katerina Novikova, a Bolshoi Theater’s spokeswoman, as saying. “All financial issues were handled by the agency, which was created by the Culture Ministry.”

Reconstruction efforts at the Bolshoi started in 2005 and were scheduled to be completed in 2009. However several delays pushed the completion date back to 2011. The Audit Chamber ruled in 2009 that during the delays, the total tab for the reconstruction grew 16-fold.

When reconstruction was completed, ballet star Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who is leaving the Bolshoi this month, called the result “vandalism.”

For years the Bolshoi Theater has been embroiled in vicious infighting, which culminated earlier this year in an acid attack on its artistic director Sergei Filin. The conflicts and tensions have been linked to increasing government investments, which have increased the yearly budget to $120 million.



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