Although it is far from clear to me by what legal means or power Maestro Valery Gergiev is in a position to replace the Artistic Director of the Vaganova Academy, Altynai Asylmuratova, with another individual on no grounds whatsoever, today's news had a flurry of articles (on Ria Novosti and other sites) stating first that Nikolai Tsiskaridze would be appointed to that position. The statement came from the Ministry of Culture initially. The subsequent murmurings and mumblings caused quite a stir locally in ballet circles.
The article link above in turn subsequently states that Gergiev intends to hire Irina Kolpakova, former member of the Soviet Duma, to replace Asylmuratova. And that he has flown to New York City to try to persuade her.
This is following her recent visit to St Petersburg in September, in which she claimed that the Academy was "a mess." Kolpakova has been living and working in the USA since the 1980s. She is a former Soviet ballerina who climbed the political ranks within the Communist Party in order to become a member of the State Duma and secure her position in the USSR; she then fled when it was convenient to do so. Numerous propaganda articles on her can be found in the State Archives. There is a recent "rose colored glasses" Russian language documentary created on her that provides glimpses of the truth.
Those of us who have followed the Academy for years hope that this does not come to pass. Asylmuratova has dedicated the second half of her life and career to cultivating the dancers we now see on stage. Gergiev has no official link with the Vaganova Academy, but the "umbrella project" mentioned previously would explain how he could then officially fill in that gap by obtaining the power and links necessary to hire and fire at will within not just the Academy but the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, the Mariinsky, and likely even the Mikhailovsky Theatres, were that project to come to fruition. Whatever one's preferences are in terms of Mariinsky dancers on stage, I do not think anyone will disagree that the Academy continues to produce top-notch graduates who are currently dancing on the best stages across the world. I think that is testimony enough that the Academy is not a mess and we do not need to fix what is not broken.