19 January 2018, Friday, 22:19

Svyatlow: The Ministry of Culture is not guilty of corruption in Yanka Kupala Theater

Yanka Kupala Theater embezzlement case unlikely to affect the theater's managers, culture ministry officials, Svyatlow says.

Managers of the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theater in Minsk and officials of the culture ministry are unlikely to be prosecuted over the embezzlement of funds earmarked for the restoration and modernization of the theater, Culture Minister Barys Svyatlow told BelaPAN on Tuesday.

"I've heard that criminal proceedings were instituted against a manager of office furniture company VPUP Belmashservis, who is suspected of embezzling 400 million rubels [$44,000], but don't know any details," he said.

Online newspaper Yezhednevnik wrote earlier this month that the man was believed to have committed the offense in May 2013.

The State Control Committee has recently reported that the culture ministry's Joint Directorate of Projects under Construction purchased furniture for the theater at excessively high prices, Yezhednevnik said. The company reportedly spent 3.6 billion rubels ($395,000 at the current exchange rate) on furniture, paying 41 million rubels ($4,500) for a chair in the director`s room and 58 million rubels ($6,400) for the secretary`s cabinet, among other items.

The restoration of Belarus’ oldest theater located directly opposite the Belarusian leader’s official residence in downtown Minsk began in 2010 and came to an end in March 2013. Director General Pavel Palyakow insisted that the theater would be restored to its original appearance, but the building was in fact reconstructed and extensively enlarged.

Since 2010, the Joint Directorate of Projects under Construction has lost three directors to embezzlement scandals. Two of them were placed under investigation and one was dismissed.

On October 2, Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued formal reprimands to Deputy Prime Minister Anatol Kalinin and Pavel Latushka, the former culture minister who currently serves as ambassador to France, over the delayed completion of restoration and modernization work to the Yanka Kupala Theater.

According to the presidential press office, the officials “failed to take proper measures to execute the directives of the head of state with regard to the modernization and restoration of the building of the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theater, which led to a delay in bringing the facility into use and an improper use of public funds.”

The Yanka Kupala National Academic Theater was opened on September 14, 1920. The building that houses it was built with public donations after a design by Polish architect Karol Kozlowski for the Minsk Provincial Theater. It was completed in 1890.

In 1944, the theater was named after great Belarusian poet and playwright Yanka Kupala (1882-1942).