Russian scam charity makes a comeback

The scam charity that got stars like Kevin Costner, Goldie Hawn and Sharon Stone to gaze fawningly while Vladimir Putin sang a strained version of Blueberry Hill is back. The disgraced Federation Fund staged a ballet at Russia's famed Bolshoi Theatre on Saturday, meaning all is well in fraud and swindle as long as you've got friends in high places.

The charity was exposed as a sham in March, about three months after it put on its first event, a massive fundraiser in St Petersburg, ostensibly to raise money for hospitals treating children with cancer. Scandal exploded when one of the kid's mothers said neither they nor the hospital where her daughter was being treated had seen a cent. The fund later backtracked and said it had never intended to raise any money, only awareness. Everyone was left asking: how much did the Hollywood stars get and where exactly did the money come from?

But that's all in the past, right?

The show on Saturday went off without a hitch, the Moscow Times reports. “Putin stayed clear of the event but, in a sign that Federation remains in the government's good graces, the show was attended by Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev,” it said. They reached a ministry spokeswoman, who said: "The minister's attendance means that his agency has checked the fund's transparency.”

The paper continues:

Some 300 Moscow orphans were offered a program centered around scenes from "Cippolino," a ballet based on a children's story from 1957 by Gianni Rodari that, somewhat ironically, tells of a struggle against corrupt authorities.

Among the performers were Bolshoi great Nikolai Tsiskaridze and tenor Zurab Sotkilava. Avdeyev praised Federation on stage alongside television celebrity Andrei Malakhov and the fund’s patron, Yelena Sever.

“It’s not important what happens at the top, only that the children are happy,” Bolshoi artist Vladimir Goncharov said, explaining his participation. He dressed as the cunning Cardinal Richelieu from Alexander Dumas’ “Three Musketeers.”


The organization's main public face, Vladimir Kiselyov — a former rock musician who worked in the Kremlin during Putin's tenure as the president — has denied being acquainted with Putin, even though Putin's spokesman has said publicly that the two knew each other.

Federation's next charity event will involve Spanish pop star Julio Iglesias, who has a show in Moscow next month, the charity spokeswoman said, without elaborating.

Interestingly, the charity was not billed as Federation but the "Innovation Charity Foundation" for the Bolshoi show. Asked what was innovative about the group, the spokeswoman said it was not seeking publicity for its activities this time. "We're just helping the children," she said. "You need to do good quietly."