Bolshoi Runs 16 Times Over Budget

MTA construction crew standing inside a fence that has surrounded the Bolshoi Theater since repairs began in 2005.

The restoration of the Bolshoi Theater has cost 16 times more than originally planned, largely because of violations on the part of the contractors, the Audit Chamber said in a report Monday.

The Audit Chamber, charged with overseeing the use of funds from the federal budget, found that reconstruction expenses had skyrocketed from the 15 billion rubles ($610 million) originally allocated.

The theater was originally closed in 2005 for repairs and was due to open in 2008, but structural problems discovered by engineers have forced authorities to push back opening night indefinitely.

The state’s Directorate for Construction, Reconstruction and Restoration, the project’s general contractor, has lost control of the price and length of the project, causing the total cost of the restoration to increase sixteenfold, the Audit Chamber said.

There was a huge increase in the project cost compared with the sum originally agreed upon because of double payments for work already completed, as well as changes in the amount and kind of work, the chamber said. In 2008 and 2009 alone, prices were increased 943.0 million rubles.

The chamber also said prices were set arbitrarily and that the state was charged for work that wasn’t undertaken, which resulted in an unnecessary 158 million rubles being charged in 2008 alone.

No actions have been taken in response to contractual violations, the chamber said.

The Audit Chamber said it had sent its report to the Investigative Committee and the government.

Bolshoi Theater representatives could not be reached for comment Monday.