How political friends got a whole theater in Novosibirsk

A new drama theater will appear in Novosibirsk. Kubanov and Starkov are not only colleagues in their political careers, but also friends. Now they will work together in a new theater

The government of the Novosibirsk region decided to create another theater – the governor signed an order on the creation of the Novosibirsk Drama Theater. The institution will appear on the site of the “House of the Actor” theater. It is planned that it should “preserve the historical memory and the best theatrical traditions of the Russian repertoire theater.”

The artistic director of the new theater was Anatoly Kubanov, the vice-speaker of the Legislative Assembly from the “Fair Russia”, his friend and ex-deputy Viktor Starkov became the director.

Even before the appointment, the new theater began to grow overgrown with assumptions – allegedly it became the “calculation” for the successful elections of the governor in 2018. We tried to figure out how politicians changed their professional sphere and what will happen in the new theater.

Longtime acquaintances

Kubanov and Starkov have been in politics since the late 90s. Anatoly Kubanov won the first elections in 1996 when he was 24 years old – then he became a deputy of the Novosibirsk City Council from the Liberal Democratic Party. In the same year, Viktor Starkov was elected to the City Council. Later they together headed the branch of the “Workers’ Party of Russia”. The parties were credited with attacks on Turkish restaurants and the German consulate in Novosibirsk. After a while, the friends returned to the Liberal Democratic Party, where Viktor Starkov headed the Novosibirsk branch of the party, and Anatoly Kubanov headed the party faction in the regional council. In 2005, Kubanov entered the regional Legislative Assembly from the Liberal Democratic Party, and 4 years later, being the leader of the faction, he left the party and entered the “Fair Russia”.

– Anatoly Kubanov, the leader of the LDPR faction, left the faction. Andrey Panferov was elected as the new leader of the LDPR faction (now vice-speaker of the Legislative Assembly from United Russia. – Ed.), – stated in the news on the website of the Legislative Assembly of June 26, 2009.

In one of his interviews to the website of the Legislative Assembly, he said that early enough “he realized for himself that he was not on the way with all sorts of liberals and democrats.” A Just Russia calls itself a socialist party.

Since 2005, Anatoly Kubanov has been elected to the Legislative Assembly of Novosibirsk three times – in 2010, 2015 and 2020. In addition, the politician was a candidate for the post of governor of the region in 2018, mayor in 2014 and participated in the elections to the State Duma from “Fair Russia” in 2016.

Starkov also ran for mayor, but in 2009, and was a member of the Legislative Assembly from the Liberal Democratic Party from 2005 to 2010. Little is known about what he is doing now, one of the interlocutors of the NGS said that now he is an advisor to one of the vice-governors of the region.

As the website “Continent Siberia” wrote, in any party Kubanov and Starkov “were primarily associated with the leadership of the Novosibirsk region, in fact, being members of the team of Governor Viktor Tolokonsky since the 90s, when he was the mayor of Novosibirsk.”

Anatoly Kubanov has indeed spoken positively about various regional governors more than once. He called Tolokonsky “one of the best and most highly professional governors in the entire cohort of heads of regions” who is distinguished by his professional training and intellectual level and “is included in the golden cohort of Russian power.”

He spoke of Vasily Yurchenko as “an excellent specialist” in which all officials work, who “constantly invigorates personnel, keeps them in good shape.”

At the same time, when in 2014 Yurchenko was dismissed from office due to the loss of confidence, and former mayor Vladimir Gorodetsky was appointed acting governor, Kubanov supported the reshuffle.

“The guys in the Kremlin know better who to remove and whom to appoint,” Kubanov told Tayge.info, “but I personally think that Gorodetsky’s appointment is a very good decision.

Later, he supported Andrei Travnikov, calling him a man of power, a real leader.

– In the Mongolian epic they were called “people of long will.” He understands the importance of the decisions made, knows how to ruthlessly implement them, – said Anatoly Kubanov in 2019.

Rumors immediately appeared around the appointment of Kubanov and Starkov to the leading positions of the new theater – this allegedly became gratitude for the successful election of governor Andrei Travnikov in 2018 and general loyalty to the authorities.

– I can assume that Kubanov’s position towards the governors has always been accurate, like everything that Just Russia does. She was neat and, in general, no party. And the fact that the theater was promised to him in exchange for his circus performance as a spoiler at the Travnikov elections, no one will confirm, but it is clear that such things just do not happen. Let’s see what they are going to stage now, we will come with pleasure, ” Andrey Gladchenko, head of the department of mass communications in the Yurchenko administration, told the NGS.

Igor Ukraintsev, a former member of the Liberal Democratic Party and now an independent deputy of the City Council, a representative of the Greens, believes that the talk about retribution by the theater is speculation.

– All the same, I think that this is idle talk. Anatoly Anatolyevich went to this business long ago and much earlier than the governor’s campaign began. Maybe, of course, the government gave him such an opportunity to realize himself in this. But I think that this is not connected with any specific event, but is connected exclusively with the charisma of Anatoly Antolyevich, which is just needed in the theater. It seems to me that this will be one of the best and most interesting theaters in Novosibirsk, because he and Starkov know how to make a show in the best sense of the word even from trifling reasons. Therefore, it will be in demand on the theater stage, – Igor Ukraintsev told NGS.

For the first time publicly about Anatoly Kubanov’s interest in the theater became known in 2015 – then he spoke on the side of the critics of the opera Tannhäuser.

The story with the “Globe”

Kubanov and Starkov do not hide the fact that they are not only party colleagues, but also friends – they mentioned this in interviews and on their pages in social networks. They really have a lot in common – both received a PhD in Philosophy, they even have a joint scientific work “Culture of Power”. From 2001 to 2010, Starkov was president of the Public Fund for Assistance to the Integrity of Russia, but the organization was liquidated by court order. Among the founders was Anatoly Kubanov.

One of their common interests, apparently, was art – in 2018 they applied for leadership positions in the Globus Theater, said then the former theater director Tatyana Lyudmilina (now Lyudmilina is again in charge of Globus). She published a post on her Facebook page in which she said that the then Minister of Culture of the region Igor Reshetnikov called the director of the theater Elena Alyabyeva and asked to leave, and a few hours later Anatoly Kubanov and Viktor Starkov came to her office, demanding to quickly write a statement on their own will.

After that, the theater troupe held an emergency meeting, where the chief director Alexei Kriklivy told the staff about the scandal around the Globe. The theater staff signed a letter in support of Alyabyeva. Later, the Minister of Culture Igor Reshetnikov denied the information about the dismissal of the director of Globus and ruled out the appointment of Starkov.

Kubanov himself, in a conversation with the NGS in 2018, denied information that he and Starkov had come to the theater (although the theater troupe offered recordings from CCTV cameras as evidence). Viktor Starkov did not comment on the incident. Nevertheless, Kubanov did not hide the fact that he had complaints against the heads of Novosibirsk theaters. He stated that nepotism and clannishness reign in the city’s theaters, destroying troupes from within.

– When in our regional sphere of culture for decades, I emphasize, budgetary cultural institutions have become the fiefdom for family business, for terry nepotism, and now we are not talking about creativity. All their creativity lies in the distribution of budgetary funds. This is not a topic that can be called theater, high art. The only thing is, if the art of sawing budget money in theaters for the administrator and his clans is called some kind of creativity, then I am categorically against it, – then Anatoly Kubanov told the journalist of the NGS.

At the same time, several theatrical figures, who wished to remain anonymous, told the NGS that Kubanov himself wanted to head one of the Novosibirsk theaters. These suspicions arose when Kubanov entered the correspondence department of directing at the Novosibirsk State Theater Institute. As the directors explained then, according to the law, it is impossible to run a theater without professional education – having received a diploma, Kubanov could apply for any position. In 2018, Kubanov confirmed the information that he was studying at the NGTI, and called the rest speculation.

What a new theater

The order to create a new theater in Novosibirsk was published on February 16. As the Minister of Culture of the Novosibirsk Region Natalya Yaroslavtseva said, the creation of a new state theater will contribute to the preservation of the historical memory and the best theatrical traditions of the Russian repertoire theater.

“The activity of the new theater will make the theatrical art more accessible for the residents of the region, increase the coverage of the children and youth population with theatrical performances of the classical repertoire,” noted Natalya Yaroslavtseva.

The new theater will employ 10-12 people, the rest will be hired temporarily, for individual projects.

On February 25, Natalya Yaroslavtseva presented the management of the new theater – Viktor Starkov became the director, and Anatoly Kubanov became the artistic director.

“He [Starkov] dreamed about it for a long time,” Yaroslavtseva noted in the TASS press center. – Anatoly Anatolyevich Kubanov, our deputy [Legislative Assembly], has been appointed Artistic Director. It is clear that we have a difficult relationship with him, and I could not lobby for him, but I cannot forbid him either. Because now he is suitable by education, he has an initiative, he has a desire. There are people who are ready to follow him.

Anatoly Kubanov himself, in a conversation with the NGS, confirmed that he had long gone to the theatrical profession. He made his first attempt to take up theater when he was 27 years old, in 2000, but then “life and work circumstances did not allow him to drastically change the path.”

– Just then I got the appointment, I was the head of the information and analytical department at Tolokonsky, and I had to postpone it. I want to emphasize here that politics is nothing more than one of the arts. I had connections with the theatrical world, I took part in various festivals, somewhere as a spectator, as someone’s comrade. But, of course, I understood that this is my profession, it is clear and close to me there, – said Anatoly Kubanov.

He stressed that before his appointment, he graduated from a two-year course at the NSTI with a degree in drama director, and his teachers were Sergei Afanasyev and Lavrenty Sorokin. Kubanov says that he studied without triples and defended himself perfectly.

– This is not so – the bull dropped the flatbread, here you are, they appointed artistic director. I have been in the subject for many years and I believe that this was a well-thought-out organizational and personnel decision. <…> I think that Natalya Vasilievna Yaroslavtseva, choosing both the theater director and artistic director, largely relied on her professional experience, the opinions of the community. To head an operating theater is one story, and a newly organized state-regional theater is always an extremely difficult task. Here people were needed who understand the budget structure, can solve administrative tasks with sufficient quality, – said the artistic director.

Now, according to Anatoly Kubanov, organizational work is underway in the theater: paperwork and repairs.

The new theater will be “witty, festive, graceful and elegant,” promises Anatoly Kubanov. The cast is planned to be formed primarily from graduates of the Novosibirsk Theater Institute.

– The repertoire will focus on the classics. Many perceive the classics as a kind of alternative to the avant-garde or the notorious contemporary art. In my opinion, this is categorically wrong, because there is nothing more radical than a classic. It contains all the fullness of any psychological, intellectual, creative potential. Any slide into -isms: avant-garde, actualism is always a flawed path. For the state theater, the main task is not to collect theater awards, but to please the audience. The repertoire policy will be as clear and transparent as possible, this is a theater for the audience, and not for some exclusive experiments, this is a theater where you can cry, laugh, where you will understand that you have not been deceived, ” said Anatoly Kubanov.

When asked about speculation around his appointment, Anatoly Kubanov replies that he wanted to do theater long before he met Travnikov. The first time he spoke about the transition to the theater was with Vasily Yurchenko, Minister of Culture Igor Reshetnikov and government official Viktor Bulankin also knew about this (now Bulankin heads the regional “Center for Creative Industries”, whose employees will be able to rehearse in the new theater).

– Payment for some political services is usually expressed in specific financial and distribution positions. This was the case in the 90s, in the early 2000s. It is understandable when a man entered Avtodor, headed the poultry plant, and received a huge piece of land – it is clear how he converted. But being the artistic director of a newly organized theater is, frankly, not a reward. And knowing Andrei Alexandrovich Travnikov, he is a complex person, very characteristic, strong-willed. I always call him the ice king because the snow queen is a heater by comparison. That is, he is an impenetrable, very tight leader who cannot be manipulated. If with the previous governors, due to the fact that we are local, I could agree on something, what to hide, some kind of comradely, semi-comradely relationship,

He noted that in the course of his political activities under different governors, he had different proposals, but he considered it “not really his activity, it was boring.”

– And the theater is close to me, this is my life’s work, I treat it very cordially and responsibly, – said Anatoly Kubanov.

Viktor Starkov did not answer the call from the NGS.

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