Topper defends funder

Russian denies bribe charges

MOSCOW — The head of Russia’s main film funder on Tuesday refuted allegations of corruption by Culture Minister Alexander Sokolov.

Sokolov told a Saturday night TV show that the “floors of the (Federal Culture and Cinematography) agency building were filled with visitors carrying cash for bribes.”

Agency chief Mikhail Shvydkoi, who was culture minister until Sokolov replaced him last year, has threatened legal action for defamation.

“I will stand behind my employees until anyone shows me definite proof that one of them has committed a criminal offense,” he said.

The FCCA controls 25 billion rubles ($875 million) out of $1.5 billion pledged to culture in Russia’s budget this year.

A major part of the FCCA’s budget goes to local film production. Despite reforms, many projects it backs never reach national screens.

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