Controversial Russian Reality Show Turns Out to Be a Hoax

MOSCOW, RUSSIA -A general view of Red square and Kremlin-Getty-H 2016
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The creator of the project says he ran it as a market research exercise.

Game 2: Winter, a controversial Russian reality TV show project set in Siberia that warned its prospective participants about possible bodily harm, has turned out to be a hoax.

Yevgeny Pyatkovsky, the project's originator, made the announcement in a video address on a website created for the project.

"It's a fake I launched for my market research," he said without explaining the nature of the research. He added that the project, in which he "didn't invest a single kopek," worked as a free ad for himself and his future projects. A kopek is a Russian monetary unit equal to one hundredth of a ruble.

According to Pyatkovsky, the project's website attracted nearly 2 million visitors. "A large number of people believed in the project," he said. "It was discussed in many countries of the world."

He also boasted: "The clever idea and a well-written press release attracted attention of The Telegraph, The Sun, New York Post and other international media with millions of readers. This is a real advertisement, not the crap you see on television on a regular basis."

The show, which he had said would start airing this summer, made the headlines when it was announced in December, thanks in part to claims that "everything is allowed, including rape and murder."

Back then, Pyatkovsky, told The Hollywood Reporter that the project's budget would be 400 million rubles ($6.5 million) coming from private investors and that he was in negotiations with networks about airing the show.

In his video address, Pyatkovsky promised refunds to those who bought tickets to be viewers of the reality show.

He also offered contact information, for 10,000 rubles ($166), for producers and reporters from international media companies who had approached him.