Russian director gets control of org

Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov has won a bitter struggle for control of the country’s cinematography union.

Mikhalkov, who directed the 1994 Academy award-winner “Burnt by the Sun,” won an overwhelming endorsement from the organization’s rank and file at a two-day congress in Moscow.

The director had headed the union for 11 years until he stepped down before a December session at which his choice for successor was voted down in favor of 83-year-old director Marlen Khustiev.

Mikhalkov regained his old position Tuesday by 1,932 votes to 171 with 88 abstentions.

Khustiev’s bid to retain the post was rejected by 1,179 votes against with just 309 for him and 132 abstaining.

The congress, which Mikhalkov supporters had won permission to hold from a Moscow court after a battle over December’s results, also voted to eject Khustiev from the union.

Viktor Matizen, president of the Russian Guild of Cinema Critics and key Mikhalkov critic, was also ousted. In February he penned an op-ed in newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets listing 14 reasons why Mikhalkov had, in his opinion, lost the support of the union.

Actor-helmer Nikolao Burlyaev told Russian news agency Interfax that Matizen had acted against the union and had been excluded on the grounds of “consecutive actions directed at splitting the union.”

Matizen and Khustiev have vowed to challenge the decisions of the congress in court, lawyer Andrei Stolbunov told state news agency RIA Novosti.

Mikhalkov now plans to bring in a professional management company to run the union, which has been beset by conflicts over legal issues relating to its valuable downtown Moscow headquarters building.

He also wants to involve the union in other pressing issues, such as increasing the battle against piracy, which despite legal reforms and gradual improvements in Moscow and other cities, remains rife in Russia.

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