Russia Launches First Probe Into Possible Misappropriation of Film Subsidies

Vladimir Putin Meeting Russian Filmmakers 2013 H

The move comes just days after President Vladimir Putin called for tighter control of government film funding.

MOSCOW -- The first criminal probe into misappropriation of state funds slated for film production was opened in Russia just days after President Vladimir Putin spoke about tighter control over government funding at a meeting with filmmakers.

The probe was opened against the film company Triada-Film, run by director Denis Alexeyev and stuntman Alexander Inshakov, which last year received cash from the ministry of culture for the production of a feature titled Mister X, the Russian daily Izvestia reported. In accordance with the report, investigators claim that the cash wasn’t actually used for the production of the movie.

Although the amount of funding the company allegedly misappropriated is only 1 million rubles ($31,700), under Russian law, it can be qualified as “grand misappropriation” and lead to a prison sentence of up to five years.

When cash provided by the government to filmmakers doesn’t have to be paid back, there is no procedure to track how the money is spent, and instances of funds being misappropriated are not uncommon. Putin, speaking with filmmakers in the Black Sea resort of Sochi last week, called for tighter control of the funds the government slates for film production.

Meanwhile, Triada owners shrugged off the allegations. “The film is scheduled to be complete on December 31, 2013,” Alexeyev was quoted as saying by Izvestia. “Before that date, it is odd to talk about misappropriation.”

Triada is already involved in a court battle for control of the company between the two owners.