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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Taganka Disputant Hits Back

Nikolai Gubenko, the former Soviet culture minister who is battling with Yury Lyubimov for control of the Taganka Theater, said Wednesday that his antagonism rested on Lyubimov's insistence on basing himself in the West rather than in Moscow.

"He spends only about a month in Moscow each season", Gubenko said in a phone interview, responding to comments made by Lyubimov at a press conference Tuesday.

"But you can't run a theater by phone from Stockholm, Jerusalem and Helsinki. Lyubimov returned to Russia after five years of exile in the West a different man", Gubenko said, adding that all Lyubimov cared about was money.

Lyubimov announced Tuesday he was closing the Taganka Theater, accusing Moscow city politicians and former employees of the theater of attempting to seize control of the theater.

Gubenko feared that the December 1991 agreement to privatize the Taganka would leave many of the actors who had worked in the theater for three decades jobless. He indicated that this remained his motivation for seeking control of half of the Taganka's valuable property, and added that Lyubimov had repeatedly spumed efforts to discuss the dispute calmly.

Lyubimov said Tuesday that there had never been an agreement to privatize the theater but merely one that gave him first priority should privatization become possible.