Society / Issue April 20 2011, ¹42
344 Who picked up the bill for the Federation Fund?
Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, Omar Sharif, Michele Placido, Catherine Zeta-Jones and husband and other stars will soon put on yet another charity concert in Russia, business and showman Vladimir Kiselyov promises. Having overnight become the country’s main expert on good deeds, Kiselyov plans a June repeat for Moscow of everything that took place in St. Petersburg in December. The Federation Fund continues its work as before, declares Kiselyov.
And there you have it. It would appear the scandal that broke out three months following the much-talked-of charity gala in Petersburg (Novaya Gazeta, 24, 26, 28, 2011) has effectively been hushed up. On December 8-9, Sharon Stone, Alain Delon, Mickey Rourke, Gerard Depardieu, Liz Mitchell, In-Grid and other stars visited children’s cancer hospitals. On December 10, they performed at the Ice Palace, Vladimir Putin stopping by, playing the piano, and even singing. Afterwards, the premier dined with the stars in the Museum of Ethnography, to the accompaniment of live music, and banners in the background in “support of the fight against oncologic and ophthalmologic diseases” (this fact was confirmed for Novaya Gazeta by Dmitry Peskov, press-secretary for the head of the government. – N.P.). On December 11, the Federation Fund held a “charity dinner, concert and auction with Hollywood actors” in the Petersburg club “XXXX”.
The Federation Fund with its face Vladimir Kiselyov has appeared out of nowhere only days ago. It dared the little children to “believe in the dream” (the name of the program). And they did, together with their parents and doctors. They waited and….nothing.
At the beginning of March, the silence was exploded by a letter from Olga Kuznetsova, the single mother of a seriously ill child, to the president of Russia. Olga wrote, “It was written that the events helped raise a large amount of money to be used to help the children… Three months have passed. There has been no money, no help, and no fund”. She asked, “Where’s the money? What kind of a fund is it if nobody knows anything about it? Who’s behind it all? And what will happen with our children if to this day we still can’t put our hope in our own government?” Medvedev didn’t answer.
…And then suddenly – the big money!
Novaya Gazeta received confirmation last week that money had been deposited in the accounts of three hospitals: Petersburg’s DGB (children’s public hospital) 1 and DGB 31, and Moscow’s Institute of Children’s Oncology and Hematology.
“Enormous money”, oncologists from DGB 31 marvelled. “Even when the hospital was considered one of the elite and serviced executive personnel, we never saw money like this”.
Institute of Children’s Oncology and Hematology received 3.5 million Euros (162 million roubles), DGB 31 received 132 million roubles, and DGB 1 received 78 million. The hospitals intend to spend their unexpected windfall on something they haven’t been able to allow themselves for many years: modern diagnostic equipment. NII is ordering an expensive CAT scanner.
DGB 31 is preparing a competition between 15 possible recipients. DGB 1 is fitting out the departments of diagnostics, resuscitation, and therapeutics.
“My daughter, like many others, had to be diagnosed abroad”, Olga Kuznetsova recounts. “If this equipment had been here earlier, so many lives could have been saved… So many children have died right in front of my eyes because they were misdiagnosed… Diagnostics doesn’t exist in this country because we don’t have the necessary equipment. We have qualified doctors. But treatment after misdiagnosis leads, in most cases, to death”.
“What’s bad about this case?” asks project coordinator for the charity fund AdVita, Elena Grachova. “There had to be a scandal for the money to go through. And so naturally, it is only fair to ask: if there had been no scandal, would the money still be there?”
“For months not a trace could be found, and then suddenly, in a matter of days, hundreds of millions of roubles appear. Of course, it makes one wonder”, ponders aloud director of the charity fund the Health and Future of our Children, Andrei Dombit. “It wasn’t the event, but the scandal that drew a reaction”.
The concert or the scandal?
“All donations have come from unknown sources”, the administration of the lucky clinics insists.
“The institute has received help from 7 sponsors, participants in the charity concert, who have expressed their desire to remain anonymous”, Novaya Gazeta was told by director of NII Children’s Oncology and Hematology, Mamed Aliyev.
“Some individuals who attended the concert decided to donate money”, repeats the head doctor of DGB 1, Anatoly Kagan. “I would rather not name them. It can only be postulated why. Still, I would rather not comment, to be perfectly honest. The end justifies much. Where could we get so much money?”
“Absolute transparency is idiotic”, insists the head doctor of DGB 31, Anatoly Ryvkin. “There is no need for everything to be done with absolute transparency. As with certain requirements of nature, if you will forgive the comparison. Never before have we seen such donations, and it is directly related to the activity of the Federation Fund. I haven’t seen the list of donors. I don’t know who they are. I haven’t been able to discuss with them what caused them to do what they did. But the connection, there can be only one explanation for what happened. And you don’t have to be a terribly intelligent person to figure out the connection… The most important thing is that the problem has been solved, and solved beautifully. More beautifully than any other fund has ever solved it”.
“It’s true – we’ve never raised so much money from one concert before”, agreed one of the cofounders of the Give Life Fund, Chulpan Khamatova. “Though we invited stars, the concert was broadcast, and Putin was in attendance”…
“In the four years that the fund has existed (2006-2010), we have been able to raise 900 million roubles, 376 million of which were raised in 2010” calculated the other cofounder of the Give Life Fund, Dina Korzun. “We have been helped by large companies, the names of which everyone is familiar with, and simple people. And we have accounted for every rouble: where it came from, and where it went”.
“The result has been tremendous”, concludes Elena Gracheva. “Though we don’t know exactly how the money was raised. If seats cost millions, then why not? If the sponsors included Rosneft or Lukoil, well, they could donate billions. The guest list was not made known. How are reports usually made for events like this? First, they say exactly how the money will be collected. Then the amount collected is made known. Thirdly, an account is given of expenses. The Federation has done none of this. How can Kiselyov be believed if, the whole time he’s represented the Federation Fund, he’s said completely different things…?
“0 raised, and 0 deposited”
On November 30, Kiselyov spoke to RIA News on behalf of the Federation, at his own behest.
“Five or six medical centres, where we were, have been chosen. The money raised will be given to these centres before the event, so that no one will have cause to write that we raised money and then kept it for ourselves to cover organizing costs. The money will be there before… In contrast to other funds, and this is a priority of ours, we will travel to children’s institutions before the event, and before the event we will do everything in our power to help the children and clinics that we have chosen”.
On March 18, at a press conference held at the St. Petersburg hotel Angleterre, I asked Kiselyov about his promise, and received the following reply. “My partners and I were overcome by a delusional state. The event didn’t achieve the results it could have. Unfortunately, the funds raised equalled zero roubles and zero kopeks. 0 raised, and 0 deposited”.
Whatever delusional state might have overcome Kiselyov, he can no doubt recall that it was precisely “before the event” and “before the event” he promised “to help the children and clinics”?
No more illusions
In Petersburg, talks about tables at the Ice Palace next to Sharon Stone, Alain Delon, Mickey Rourke, Monica Bellucci, Kevin Costner, and others (of your choice) offered for twenty five thousand Euros can still be heard.
“I heard about it too,” the manager of the restaurant “XXXX”, Ramis, confirmed for Novaya Gazeta. “Vladimir Kiselyov came to us a week before the event at the Ice Palace. He proposed, as representative of the Federation Fund, to hold a charity concert, dinner and auction in our restaurant together with Hollywood actors. The standard deposit for a table in our club starts at thirty thousand roubles. We agreed to the following (verbally, there were no written contracts): I would close the restaurant on the evening of December 11, with entrance only for those with invitations, Kiselyov bringing the stars, and the deposits for the tables increasing by two or three times. Basically, we sell a table for 150 thousand roubles, the restaurant (we feed the guests, give them drinks) taking 50 thousand, and Kiselyov taking 100 thousand. The most expensive tables were planned for the stage, next to the stars. But only Mickey Rourke and Ornella Muti came to “XXXX”. What’s more, in such a short period of time, we weren’t able to invite as many guests as we had originally wanted, and so the tables didn’t sell as well as they were supposed to. What happened at the Ice Palace – I don’t know. They say the hall was about 70% full. The auction didn’t live up to hopes either. The fund, as organizer, kept the profits for itself. The hosts were unable to warm the public up. Only three lots sold: a silver business card holder for 40 thousand roubles, a wooden frame for 20 thousand, and a bag with a ring from Ornella Muti for 100 thousand roubles. I sealed a box containing 160 thousand roubles and gave it to Kiselyov’s assistants myself. I don’t know why his calculations came out to 80 thousand roubles”.
In the morning: de facto, in the evening: de jure.
A verbal agreement with the restaurant “XXXX” was, of course, the right thing to do. It would have been a tad incorrect for the Federation, which at that moment did not yet exist de jure, to enter into a written agreement. Indeed, it was only on December 28 that the fund registered with the Ministry of Justice, on January 28, 2011, that it registered with the tax bureau, and February 1, with the Pension fund.
According to the Integrated Government Registrar of Legal Personalities (IGRLP), the Federation is directed by one Alexander Yermakov. The sole trustee and founder of the limited liability company “CSOP” (the Centre for Socially Oriented Programmes), Sergei Averin, a former employee of Moscow’s law enforcement agency, is now a businessman. Both names are relatively unknown in business circles. What is known is that Averin is the director and owner of the private security firm “NOT”, and Ermakov the founder of the firm “New Security Technologies”. Judging by IGRLP, neither of them has any previous experience in charity work. No doubt it is this lack of experience alone that has kept charitable work from the list of the Federation’s other main activities (entertainment, sporting, real estate, financial intermediation, and so on). Even so, the founders seem quite certain that even without registration one can: advertise, talk to the press, seek volunteer labour, hold events and invite guests - from head doctors to internationally famous stars and high ranking government officials. In the Ice Palace, for example, St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko, Deputy Minister of Justice Victor Yevtukhov, the president’s representative to the Northwestern Federal District Ilya Klebanov, Russian Football Union President Sergei Fursenko and, of course, Putin.
“The Federation Fund was holding a presentation”, explained Kiselyov.
Brave. And what if it had been refused registration?
“And just who said you can’t hold a presentation?” The showman answered my question with a question.
Novaya Gazeta has made an official inquiry at the Ministry of Justice, from which it awaits a reply.
All the little tricks
“I put on events the way I do them”, says Kiselyov. “I was invited to organise events because the fund had no experience or opportunity to do so. There is such a thing as expertise. Over 40 years I have had every opportunity to learn all the secrets of how to organise concerts and minimize costs. There are lots of little tricks”…
Little tricks played a role, or the unimportant absence of status and necessary judicial formalities for the fund, and the Federation concert at the Ice Palace was arranged through Kiselyov’s firm. As Novaya Gazeta was informed at the Northwestern branch of the Russian Author’s Association, the limited liability company Production Centre “Ordinar TV”, which is 100% owned by Vladimir Vladimirovich, concluded a onetime licensing agreement for “a concert for a children’s charity fund with the participation of international jazz stars”.
“The cost of the contract is not being divulged”, Novaya Gazeta was told by the commercial director of the public limited company Sport Palace, Mikhail Monakhov. “The average cost of renting the building for a day is 550 thousand roubles, depending on the needs, goals, number of people taking part, their status, and so on. In certain cases, under special circumstances, the cost can come out even below the average”.
The renting of the Marble Room in the Museum of Ethnography for a banquet for “the premier and his guests” was also arranged by Kiselyov’s Production Centre “Ordinar TV”, an organization not in the bit least charitable. To spend an evening in the Museum, St. Petersburg broker firms usually ask for 8 to 10 thousand Euros.
“The price depends greatly upon who benefits from the event”, Novaya Gazeta was told by the press secretary of the Russian Museum of Ethnography, Inna Karpushina. “There are no general numbers I could share. The approach is always differs greatly”.
Kiselyov insists that he received the support of the Hollywood stars, no one demanding a fee for their appearance. Likewise, he received the aid of the hotels, which agreed to put up their famous guests for free. The events sponsors were of great help too. Aeroflot flew the guests in for free. SoGAZ, Rostelekom, and INFRA-Engineering offered financial aid (the sum of which remains a secret). The Charity Fund of Saint Basil the Great (the fund’s council of trustees includes director Nikita Mikhalkov, Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), abbot of Sretensky Monastery, commonly believed to be Putin’s spiritual father, and Konstantin Malofeyev, a shareholder in Rostelekom PLC and INFRA-Engineering LLC, and others) supplied the concert with a children’s choir.
In almost every situation, as Novaya Gazeta was informed by the companies themselves, contracts were concluded with the “legal personality representing the interests of the Federation Fund”. The management of INFRA-Engineering LLC refused to comment, while the administration of the Charity Fund of Saint Basil the Great sensed a catch, “An agreement was concluded with the Federation”, the fund’s representative, Elena Zubova, answered uncertainly. “Why are you wondering? You want me to say that we concluded our agreement with Kiselyov and that he deceived us?”
Not at all. And what’s more: even if there had been no scandal, I would be sincerely interested in the fund, which has been around for such a short period of time and is already so big, and at no charge was able to attract dozens of big stars to Russia. It was able to attract them, and to get its venerable sponsors to open up their wallets, and everyone else to make concessions for them. It was able to bring together equally venerable guests. The premier, by chance, as Kiselyov contends, walks in and reveals his musical talent. And finally, an ugly scandal on the whereabouts of the money raised is suddenly solved beautifully. Who wouldn’t be interested?
And indeed, many have shown their interest in the topic. Thousands of bloggers on the net took a lively interest in Vladimir Kiselyov and the Federation, following them closely. One of them, the Petersburg entrepreneur Dmitry Delov, went farther than the rest. It was he who happened upon the LiveJournal of television host Anton Zorkin, the very fellow who hosted the concert at the Ice Palace, the auction at “XXXX” and the banquet at the museum, and who described on the internet how he had eaten black caviar in the Marble Room, shaken the hand of Putin, carried Ingrid in his arms, drunk with Delon, and supported it all with a pretty decent photo journal (98 shots). Delov talked about Zorkin’s blog with journalists.
“And then on one of the pictures”, Dmitry said, “I saw the phone numbers of the event’s organizers: 8 812 989-77-99 and 8 985 766-21-70 (both numbers are now out of order) and called. A girl answered the phone.
“ ‘Where did you get this number?’ ”
“ ‘From the internet’ ”.
“I asked how much tickets to the next charity evening would cost, what the Federation Fund was, and how I could get in contact with it. The girl suggested writing through LiveJournal or by email. I asked for the fund’s telephone number. She mumbled something and hung up. A day later (March 18) I received a phone call.
“ ‘You wanted to know about the Federation Fund. Why?’ ”
“On the night of March 22-23, someone set fire to my store, breaking the window and throwing through it a bottle filled with petrol and stuffed with a burning rag. I can’t say for certain that it is connected, but I started to feel very uncomfortable, and gave up my enquiries”.
My investigation also came to a halt at this place.
My visit to the Moscow office of the Federation (Panfilovsky lane, 4. 1.) stopped before it even started, outside the closed door. Neither a website, nor telephone number could be found for the fund. Vladimir Kiselyov, who calls himself a member of the board of trustees of the Federation Charity Fund, suggests contacting him through LiveJournal or by email. The only number I was able to find what that of the fund’s press secretary, Anna Abakumova. But a telephone conversation with her (April 13) wasn’t very successful.
“Could I ask you some questions?”
“Now’s not a very good time for me”.
“And when might be a good time?”
“Do you have my email?”
“Only by email?”
“And just what kind of questions do you have?”
“I was wondering how to get in contact with the fund’s director Alexander Ermakov?”
“I don’t think there’s any way you could do that”.
“Let’s talk a little later”…
Later never came. Anna doesn’t answer my calls.
I wonder if Putin also contacts Kiselyov through LiveJournal?
VVP and VVK
The difficult relationship between the two namesakes (Vladimir Vladimirovich’s) is known to all, except, perhaps, those with a hearing disability. The gist of the problem lies in one (Putin) being well inclined towards the other (Kiselyov), while the latter turns his nose up at the former.
Answers to questions posed by journalists differ by 180 degrees.
(Press secretary Dmitry Peskov answers for Vladimir Putin)
On personal acquaintance
Peskov: As far as I know, Putin and Kiselyov know each other. Theoretically, I suppose, Kiselyov could even be the one who taught Putin to play the piano. Though really, I don’t know. That’s a part of Putin’s personal life.
Kiselyov: I don’t know Putin Personally. Who’s Putin, and who am I? Putin is the leader of the nation, and I am a person who has to defend himself for a crime that never occurred.
On the invitation to the charity concert
Peskov: Putin’s visit was arranged with the organizers a week before, maybe even two. When all this outcry began, we, of course, looked into the agreement we had with the organizers, and quite rightly started asking questions: “Was Putin involved?” “He was”. “And what about the sponsors, and the hospitals?”
Kiselyov: Vladimir Putin dropped in on the concert by chance, towards the end. He had seen the advertisements and came by. He just wanted to, and came to lend a hand by taking part. What agreements? I never talked to him about it, simply because I was never called to talk to him.
În being present at the Museum of Ethnography banquet
Peskov: The head of the government was indeed present at the dinner at the museum. At one table with Putin in the Marble Room sat Alain Delon, Sharon Stone, Monica Bellucci, Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn and Kevin Costner. The prime minister was invited to the dinner by the Federation Fund.
Kiselyov: What difference does it make what happened where? In the Marble Room, at the Museum of Ethnography? Was there a dinner or not? I’ve forgotten long since. I organize so many events. You want me to remember everything? I wasn’t there. I didn’t drink the wine or eat the caviar…or how does it go in the fairy tale? That’s a good Russian fairy tale. Basically, write whatever you want.
Just two answers to the questions posed to the namesakes: Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin): have you been invited to the June concert yet? And Vladimir Vladimirovich (Kiselyov): have you now made Putin’s acquaintance?
I will never forget how I dropped by one of the now lucky hospitals to make a photocopy, and the secretary said to me, “the paper and paperclips have also been paid for by our sponsors”…
An enormous amount of money just fell from heaven onto the hospital. And the things that the doctors now dream of buying, they once scrupulously copied and recopied from one list of equipment “essential” or “needing replacement” to another, over the course of years and even decades. The government, without doubt, played a key role in this story. Putin, if only through assistants, took part in solving the scandal, got in touch with those involved, and followed the events as they unfolded. As a result the spoon turned up, though there was a little bit of film left on the surface.
If they really wanted to help sick children, then why did they drag it out so long? If they really wanted to help, then why couldn’t they have involved a fund already working in the field and possessing a good reputation? Why was it necessary to create a new Federation? And most importantly: where did Kiselyov come from, turning a charity event into a big show? And moreover, one that didn’t really turn out.
Francois Gerard, press attaché of Gerard Depardieu (from an interview with “Radio Freedom”):
– We don’t know what happened. And we have no intention of lying. Go ahead and ask where the money went, and the people who took it. What do you think: that Gerard took it? No. Why must he make some sort of comment on the matter? Ask the people who took the money.
Ìarco Rapini, In-Grid’s manager:
— In-Grid took part in an event for absolutely nothing; we didn’t received any compensation whatsoever. The singer made this known in her visit to the hospital.
Moreover, Ingrid was already in town a day before the charity concert because she had flown into St. Petersburg for a jazz show in the yacht club, and the expenses for her flight were paid for by the organizers of the jazz show. The organizers of the charity concert apparently paid for a night in the hotel.
We don’t know any of the organizers of the charity concert. Ingrid was contacted by an agent, not offering any money, which in any case Ingrid wouldn’t have taken, because she took part in the concert in all sincerity, out of a desire to share her talent with the children.
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