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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Artists Denied Access to Frozen Accounts

Russia's creative community complained Monday that it has not been given access to accounts in Vneshekonombank, the Soviet Bank for Foreign Trade, that collapsed with $7 billion of debts in late 1991.

Andrei Cherkizov, general director of the Russian Intellectual Property Agency, known by its acronym RIPA, which represents artists, scientists and writers, said at a press conference Monday that despite a decision in April to open up accounts held by private individuals, RIPA's 95, 000 members still had no access to their money and were owed $18 million, royalties earned in 1991.

Vneshekonombank, the only Soviet bank that carried out all foreign-currency operations, went bankrupt in late 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and all accounts were frozen.

Private accounts were reopened for Russians on April 12 but accounts held by legal entities are still frozen. The government has promised to issue long-term securities in exchange for these accounts but has not yet done so.

Cherkizov said that RIPA's account, which held all the royalties RIPA had collected for its 95, 000 members, was still frozen because Vneshekonombank claimed the account belonged to a legal entity.

Cherkizov said this classification was unfair and he had received backing from high government officials.

"RIPA's bank account is nothing more than a basket of personal bank transfers", said Cherkizov.