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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Radisson Battle Disrupts Cinema Venture

The five-year-old imbroglio at the Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel is now affecting Muscovites' opportunities to see undubbed versions of English-language films.


Viewers have been surprised, and in some cases disappointed, to see "The Night of the Running Man" playing at the smart hotel's Americom House of Cinema instead of the widely acclaimed "Muriel's Wedding," which had been advertised as the latest showing. Weekend showings of Walt Disney's "The Jungle Book" were also canceled.


The change in schedule is just one more chapter in the battle between Paul Tatum, president of Americom Business Centers, and his hostile joint-venture partners, the Moscow Property Committee and the Radisson Hotel Corp.


Eduard Avanyan, economics adviser to the joint venture, said Tuesday that Golden Ring Entertainment, the company which has procured movies for the hotel cinema and effectively managed it since November, was terminated last week.


He said the Americom House of Cinema will continue to show foreign films, using its own distributors.


The question for many viewers will be whether the cinema will be able to obtain major films as Golden Ring had recently managed to do.


Meanwhile, Ray Markovich, president of Golden Ring, said his company plans to show English-language movies at another Moscow cinema starting in late August. He refused to name the cinema.


Tatum said he remains a staunch supporter of Golden Ring's activities, but his Russian partners said the company had brought the joint venture virtually nothing but trouble.


Avanyan said the joint venture sent a fax to Golden Ring Entertainment's Moscow office June 6, warning that it planned to terminate the contract after 45 days.


But Golden Ring ignored the letter and planned to keep showing its films even after the period ran out.


"The JV didn't terminate it according to the terms of the contract," Markovich said.


The joint venture was required under the contract to send a letter by certified mail to Golden Ring's offices in the United States. Therefore, Golden Ring had planned to several months, and that the contract represented a conflict of interest, since Markovich is also an Americom employee.


"It's typical Russian bull, trying to renegotiate the deal after the deal," Markovich said. He added that it was "ridiculous" to charge him with conflict of interest since Americom itself is a member of the joint venture.


Golden Ring board chairman Paul Heth said taking the funds from the cash register was the only way his company could ensure payment, since the joint venture was frequently late in making payments. Tatum said he had authorized this action.


The two sides also have different versions of who owes whom money. Avanyan said Golden Ring has unpaid advertising bills, but Heth denied this and said Golden Ring was owed money by the joint venture. He added that the funds taken from the cash register did not exceed Golden Ring's contractual share because credit card payments were not taken.


"They've always screwed up their payments to us," he said, "How in the hell else do we get paid?"


The dispute is part of an ongoing battle between Tatum and his partners over who is to have control of the hotel, an issue currently being considered by an arbitration court in Stockholm.


Appealing to the joint venture's founding documents, Tatum insists that the managing board should be headed by an American representative and that he has veto powers over management decisions. His embattled partners, led by Umar Dzabrailov, acting general director of the joint venture, disagree, saying these original documents are invalid because they have been superceded by the company's later reregistration as a joint-stock or limited-liability firm in 1992.


"The joint venture has no authority to manage anything in the joint-venture agreement," Tatum said.


But the cinema's manager, Vladislav Tsaryov, disagreed. "The theater belongs 100 percent to the joint venture," he said. "But Paul Tatum and Americom consider this whole business to be their baby."


The battle -- in which Tatum was at one point evicted from his office and reduced to drilling through his door to get inside -- has been messy, involving suits, countersuits, evictions and public insults.


"We're just stuck in the middle of a spitting match between Mr. Dzabrailov and Mr. Tatum," Golden Ring's Heth said.