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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bolshoi Repairs Investigated

MTPeople sitting on benches in a park in front of the covered Bolshoi Theater.

Investigators opened a criminal case Monday into suspicious triple payments for restoration works on Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater that point to possible embezzlement by a federal agency.

The opening of the criminal investigation follows a report by the Audit Chamber in August that found that the design costs of the Bolshoi Theater have already cost 16 times more than originally planned, mainly because of violations on the part of the contractors.

The Investigative Committee said in a statement Monday that the project’s general contractor, the state-controlled Directorate for Construction, Reconstruction and Restoration, faces charges of misusing its powers.

A spokeswoman for the directorate told The Moscow Times on Monday that she could not comment on the case.

Officials responsible for the restoration of the Bolshoi Theater could spend up to four years in prison if convicted.

The Investigative Committee suspects that the directorate overpaid ZAO Kurortproekt, which ran part of the restoration works, from 2003 through this year. While official contracts state that Kurortproekt was due to receive 164 million rubles ($5.3 million) for its services, it obtained about 957 million rubles ($31 million) because of triple payments for the same design work and documentation, the Investigative Committee said in the statement. The documentation alone cost the directorate 581 million rubles ($18.8 million), it said.

Kurortproekt officials could not be reached for comment on Monday.

A spokeswoman for the Bolshoi Theater said by telephone, “As the Bolshoi Theater had absolutely nothing to do with the reconstruction, it cannot offer any additional information.”

The 185-year-old Bolshoi Theater was originally closed in 2005 for a 15 billion ruble ($610 million) reconstruction that sought to restore the original acoustics lost in a renovation in the 1930s.

It was due to open in 2008, but structural problems discovered by engineers have forced authorities to push back opening night to 2011. When reopened, the Bolshoi Theater should be 50,000 square meters larger.