Russia probes $2.8 million 'embezzled in Bolshoi refit'

13th June 2013, Comments 0 comments

Russia's interior ministry said Thursday that it had uncovered a $2.8 million theft of state money allocated for a major refit of the Bolshoi Theatre in the latest scandal to hit the historic site.

The state-owned Bolshoi Theatre reopened its main building in 2011 with a gala show by ballet and opera stars after a refit that took six years and officially cost $700 million.

The interior ministry's economic crime squad found a "theft of budget money to the sum of 90 million rubles, allocated to carry out the federal culture programme," it said in a statement published on its website.

The allegations focus on a state management organisation that carries out restoration and construction for the Russian culture ministry.

In 2005 it signed a contract with a company to replace the theatre's electronics as part of the restoration project.

The interior ministry said the state management organisation then signed off on work that was not completed and poorly done and transferred the payment to the company, PO Teplotekhnik.

The Bolshoi's refit drew criticism from some, such as outspoken star dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze who complained of cheap new materials and claimed that the bronze door handles and candelabras had disappeared.

Tsiskaridze, who has had several run-ins with Bolshoi management, had his contracts with the theatre terminated this month.

The Bolshoi's reputation has been severely damaged lately by an acid attack on the ballet's artistic director Sergei Filin, causing eye and facial damage. A soloist at the ballet, Pavel Dmitrichenko, has been charged with two accomplices and faces up to 12 years in prison.


© 2013 AFP

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