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Bolshoi Theatre administration reshuffled

July 10, 2013, 10:53 UTC+3

The resignation of director general Iksanov was a complete surprise for the GABT art directors

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Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky officially announced on Tuesday that Bolshoi Theatre /GABT/ director general Anatoly Iksanov was stepping down. He is replaced by director general of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre Vladimir Urin.

The resignation of director general Iksanov was a complete surprise for the GABT art directors: they only heard news about the Ministry's decision on Monday evening and were clearly depressed, the Kommersant writes. Both director generals, the former and the incumbent, looked quite gloomy. Appointee Urin looked even unhappier than the dismissed Anatoly Iksanov. In his brief speech, the former acknowledged that the decision to accept the new post was not easy for him, and that initially, he had refused. He agreed only after Anatoly Iksanov personally phoned him and promised to show the ropes. Vladimir Urin assured that he was not "planning any revolutions," and that he was hoping that he and GABT personnel would get along well.

A blitz poll of the key persons involved in the reshuffle decision, conducted by the Kommersant, has failed to clarify the question why this resounding resignation has occurred just now, ahead of the crucial first night of the Onegin ballet and the important guest performances of the ballet company in London. These purely artistic events were expected to strengthen the Bolshoi Theatre's creative reputation, and now they may be overshadowed by the reshuffle sensation.

The newspaper reminds about the scandals that preceded Iksanov's resignation. After his contract was prolonged 18 months ago, a collective letter by GABT personnel was published asking Vladimir Putin to appoint Nikolai Tsiskaridze GABT director general. Later, it turned out that it was the dancer himself who had initiated the letter. Several weeks later, GABT art director Sergei Filin was attacked and lost 90 percent of his eyesight as a result.

Also, the Audit Chamber found financial violations when it was checking the bills for revamping the Bolshoi Theatre.

For many observers it seems as it a systematic campaign was underway to discredit one of the best - if actually not the best - theater manager of Russia, who obviously was losing public polemics to his charismatic opponent Tsikaridze, the newspaper writes. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Culture bore all these punches at the reputation of Anatoly Iksanov, its protege.

The Izvestia publishes opinions of peoples of art, who regard the new director as a decent, though tough person. The newspaper concludes that Urin would not allow the Tsiskaridze syndrome happen again.

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes that there were no scandals involving artists in Urin's career. The first test everybody is talking about is whether or not the new director will let the recently dismissed Tsiskaridze return to the fold. However the newspaper reminds that Tsiskaridze is to leave the stage soon due to his age, and that he was even considered the most likely candidate for the post of Bolshoi Theatre director general. So the newspaper concludes that Vladimir Urin will unlikely need such "an ally" in the beginning of his work at the new post.


Human rights reporter gunned down in Dagestan

In a new resounding assassination in Dagestan on Tuesday, unidentified assailants shot and killed well-known journalist, deputy editor-in-chief of the Novoye Delo Weekly Akmednabi Akhmednabiyev. The regional department of the Investigative Committee said the prime motive behind the murder was the journalist's professional activity.

The Kommersant notes that Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev was known in the republic as a human rights reporter. His publications - he wrote not only for the weekly, but also for the online edition Kavkazsky Uzel /Caucasian Knot/ of the Memorial civil rights society - addressed violations and abuses committed by law-enforcement bodies in the course of special operations.

It was probably the reason behind Akhmednabiyev finding his name on the leaflets when hundreds of them were scattered in markets and mosques of Makhachkala in September 2009. They were written by relatives of the police officers killed by militants /the authors promised to stage extra-judicial executions of gunmen and their accomplices, including well-known lawyers, journalists and human rights activists/. The founder of Chernovik /"Rough Copy"/, another popular Dagestan daily, Gadzhimurad Kamalov, was also on the hit list. He was killed in December 2011. This crime remains unsolved.

Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev was repeatedly threatened, and in January 2013, his car came under fire in the same place where he was assassinated on Tuesday.

Aside from problems with law-enforcers, the journalist did not get along with the local administration, the Kommersant underlines. Akhmednabiyev repeatedly wrote critical articles for the Novoye Delo about head of the Akhvakhsky district Ismail Magomedsharipov. The certified doctor combined work for various publications with practice in his native village of Karata, which he regularly visited and where he spent no less time than in Makhachkala. Therefore, the problems of his native place were constantly in his focus.

"It is premature to talk about priority versions," editor-in-chief of the Novoye Delo Gadzhimurad Sagitov told the newspaper, "but we cannot fail to pay attention to the fact, that despite the "hit lists," the SMS messages threatening murder and the January assassination attempt, the law-enforcement bodies did nothing to solve the cases, ascertain the origin of the hit lists and use billing data to identify those who had sent the SMS messages to Akhmednabiyev. We do not believe the investigation will be carried through."

According to Dagestan reporters, Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev "wielded a formidable pen, and therefore inconvenienced many persons," the Novye Izvestia writes. He has become the fifth reporter gunned in Dagestan in the past five years. The other slain Dagestan reporters are: founder of the Chernovik newspaper Gadzhimurad Kamalov, chairman of the Dagestan television and radio company Gazhi Abashilov and two editors-in-chief of the Makhachkala-TV company Mukhammadvakil Sultanmagomedov and Abdulla Alishayev.

"Akhmednabi was not only a journalist who has written critical articles about all Dagestan problems for two decades, he was also an excellent cardiologist who treated people to the last days of his life," Dagestan's public figure Sulaiman Uladiyev told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, "he was also a very good Muslim with strong faith. He was killed for telling the truth and writing openly about everything. He narrowly survived some assassination attempts. But nothing was done to protect him. Such is Dagestan's reality."

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