volcanohunter

Joy Womack has left the Bolshoi

275 posts in this topic

I don't understand why they would consider suing her. She's not the first Bolshoi dancer to talk about bad things that go on behind the curtain. Volochkova said similar things Womack has said about sex sponsorships and I don't recall them suing/ threatening to sue her.

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What does the Bolshoi get directly out of sex sponsorships except the headaches of having outsiders who know little about the ballet pressuring management to cast their wives, girlfriends, and mistresses? They already don't care about how much or little they pay their dancers in one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are dancers who have been much more unhappy with the Mariinsky and have moved to the Bolshoi, like Obraztsova, Zakharova (for a while), and Mercuriev, and they think the prestige and the pull of Moscow -- culture, families -- will keep dancers there.

Bribery for parts, however, are a different story: that's being brought up simultaneously in the Dmitrichenko trial; I'm not surprised Filin is considering a suit (or at least putting out the word that he is). I think his take-away from ignoring the threads to him that culminated in the acid attack against him and watching Iksanov being sacked is to come out strong and not expect things to fade away.

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I don't understand why they would consider suing her. She's not the first Bolshoi dancer to talk about bad things that go on behind the curtain. Volochkova said similar things Womack has said about sex sponsorships and I don't recall them suing/ threatening to sue her.

Volochkova made her accusations considerably before the time of Filin's directorship. Womack is attacking Filin's Bolshoi and it's Filin's lawyer doing the talking about the accusations that are directed at the company under his leadership...As for Filin, right now he is under similar attack in a courtroom by Dmitrichenko and his team. That is, he is under attack by the very person he considers responsible for the acid attack against him (and who, indeed, has confessed to involvment)--acid that partly blinded him and has caused him untold misery and suffering. Something I do not remotely believe is being faked. I don't think it's surprising he is aggressive in parrying additional attacks that seem to support the allegations being made against him by Dmitrichenko under these circumstances.

And I continue to feel strongly that even if everything alleged against Filin or the Bolshoi under Filin's leadership turned out to be true, it doesn't begin to justify hiring a dangerous thug to attack him in any way, shape, or form. I certainly don't believe that the person capable of doing THAT can in any way be trusted to stand straightforwardly for truth, fairness, and justice at the Bolshoi.

(I was typing this as Helene posted...)

In general the Bolshoi's institutional reputation has taken such a huge hit, by everything that has happened this year that I think reactions all round may be different than they were when Volochkova left the company.

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Volochkova was easy to dismiss at the time, partly because she was tabloid fodder around what was described as a garish renovation of a garish apartment and lawsuits with contractors and for non-payment.

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Perhaps the threat of legal action is intended to dissuade anyone inclined to corroborate Womack’s allegations. But I think it is heavy-handed and unlikely to make the story “go away” any faster. That genie is already out of the bottle.

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Vladimir Urin, meanwhile, has stated that Womack ought to take her allegations of corruption to law enforcement and promised that the Bolshoi Theater would cooperate with any investigation. He acknowledges that there were some irregularities with her contracts and that her salary was not always paid on time, which he blames on red tape associated with the fact that she is a foreign national. He also says the money was withheld from her salary because she had not formally established that she was a tax resident of the United States. Urin says he's sorry her career at the Bolshoi did not work out and hopes that she will fare better with her new company.

http://news.mail.ru/inregions/moscow/90/culture/15630807/

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Vladimir Urin, meanwhile, has stated that Womack ought to take her allegations of corruption to law enforcement and promised that the Bolshoi Theater would cooperate with any investigation. He acknowledges that there were some irregularities with her contracts and that her salary was not always paid on time, which he blames on red tape associated with the fact that she is a foreign national. He also says the money was withheld from her salary because she had not formally established that she was a tax resident of the United States. Urin says he's sorry her career at the Bolshoi did not work out and hopes that she will fare better with her new company.

http://news.mail.ru/inregions/moscow/90/culture/15630807/

There are similar mandatory tax withholding policies between the US and Canada; I'm not surprised the same is true between Russia and western countries.

He is good: he didn't miss a note.

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1. So who pocketed the 1/3?

There's no evidence that anyone "pocketed" the 1/3, aside from the usual and final destination for withholding taxes, the government.
So it is sitting in escrow without any id attached?

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What could they sue her for?

What could they prove?

What evidence do they have that what she said is untrue?

What damage did they suffer?

Does Filin preserve rights for himself or the Bolshoi?

How would he not "preserve" rights, anyway? He could always sue her, regardless.

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Vladimir Urin, meanwhile, has stated that Womack ought to take her allegations of corruption to law enforcement and promised that the Bolshoi Theater would cooperate with any investigation. He acknowledges that there were some irregularities with her contracts and that her salary was not always paid on time, which he blames on red tape associated with the fact that she is a foreign national. He also says the money was withheld from her salary because she had not formally established that she was a tax resident of the United States. Urin says he's sorry her career at the Bolshoi did not work out and hopes that she will fare better with her new company.

http://news.mail.ru/inregions/moscow/90/culture/15630807/

Well, then she could really be assured of never working again, and based on the thuggery described on these boards (including by law enforcement), and the advanced threats by Filin's lawyer to prevent corroboration, she would also face not being around to testify at trial. Going to court would certainly allow her to put things behind her and forget it, too. [sarcasm]

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1. So who pocketed the 1/3?

There's no evidence that anyone "pocketed" the 1/3, aside from the usual and final destination for withholding taxes, the government.
So it is sitting in escrow without any id attached?

I have no idea what constitutes the actual process in Russia. Traditionally, mandatory withholding is done so that the government is ensured of getting the taxes it is owed from a specific person, and if that money is not identified in some way, they can't verify that the Bolshoi did proper withdrawals. However, there is no evidence that it was taken from her paycheck illegally or not attributed to her, and, in fact, Urin has addressed the issue directly in a passage you quoted, and that is it was deducted because she had not established that she was a US tax resident.

What could they sue her for?

What could they prove?

What evidence do they have that what she said is untrue?

What damage did they suffer?

Does Filin preserve rights for himself or the Bolshoi?

How would he not "preserve" rights, anyway? He could always sue her, regardless.

Many of your questions can only be answered by experts or speculation, and until there is official news or expert information, they will remain unanswered here.

Well, then she could really be assured of never working again, and based on the thuggery described on these boards (including by law enforcement), and the advanced threats by Filin's lawyer to prevent corroboration, she would also face not being around to testify at trial. Going to court would certainly allow her to put things behind her and forget it, too. [sarcasm]

She's already working: she's been hired by the Kremlin ballet, as noted earlier in the thread. "Preventing corroboration" is a theory, not fact.

Lawsuits are civil, not criminal matters and have different standards, even in Russia. It isn't clear from the proceedings in the Dmitrichenko trial whether Filin's request for damages are integrated into the criminal trial, or whether the outcome might trigger damages.

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He has no reason to say he preserves his right to sue, since he always has that right. That is not an issue of speculation.

If he is saying he has a right to sue, which he is not now asserting but preserves, then he must be asserting that what she says is not true and also that he has suffered a personal damage, unless he is being mouthy, spontaneous and defensive, or untruthful. That is not an issue of speculation.

People are often threatened with respect to money, regardless of whether a civil or criminal trial ensues.

If she follows advise of Urin to go to law enforcement regarding extortion, then one assumes he is saying to make a criminal complaint.

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All so interesting. My only viewing of Joy Womack's dancing has been on youtube and she seems like a strong dancer with a very good body. I have no idea what drew her to Russian companies, I guess that's just where her aesthetics are. I'm not sure how she'd fit into North American companies that demand more versatility, but I wish her well in the Kremlin company.

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If Filin's lawyer is saying Filin reserves the right to sue, then presumably he means reserving the right to sue for libel or the Russian legal equivalent. (My understanding is that "defamation" can be prosecuted as a criminal offense in Russia, but Filin's lawyer does not refer to anything of the kind as translated/summarized.) What damage to him from Womack's interview? Well I should think depending on how the law is framed...damage to his reputation and all that can ensue from that--and anything of the kind would have to be determined in a court of law.

I think Urin's response to Womack just seems a lot smarter and also more to the point than Filin's lawyer's response, especially if she is not making any claims against Filin personally. But when someone gives an interview potentially trashing one's reputation I don't know that one doesn't have the right to send up smoke signals via lawyer that the person can't necessarily just walk away saying 'I want to put it behind me...' Though it's certainly playing hardball.

It's not that I'm without sympathy for Womack--I'm delighted she found a job with the Kremlin ballet--but she doesn't just say the Bolshoi was unwelcoming to her or is badly run or was late with a paycheck. She says that she was told to find a sponsor and pay for roles.

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He has no reason to say he preserves his right to sue, since he always has that right. That is not an issue of speculation.

He could have many reasons to say he preserves the right to sue. He could very well be saying, "If you have something to allege, you'd better have proof to back it up," which is just as plausible as "I will bury any of your witnesses," which is speculation, not fact. Filin's lawyer might be making this statement specifically because Filin is asking for monetary damages from the people responsible for his attack, and unsubstantiated allegations reported in the press might influence his ability to be granted and collect those monies.

There's no reason for Filin or anyone in the theater to put up with the kind of perpetual allegations that are dredged up every time Volochkova is the press's "go to" girl for a quote about sex and corruption at the Bolshoi. So far, she's proven nothing. She has less to lose than Womack, since Womack wants to continue to be employed in Russia, but Volochkova hasn't filed criminal charges.

If he is saying he has a right to sue, which he is not now asserting but preserves, then he must be asserting that what she says is not true and also that he has suffered a personal damage, unless he is being mouthy, spontaneous and defensive, or untruthful. That is not an issue of speculation.

Those are possibilities. There are other possibilities, such as she'd better be careful that anything she says to the press is something that she can back up in court in the future. Again, there is only speculation as to his motives.

People are often threatened with respect to money, regardless of whether a civil or criminal trial ensues.

Again, there's nothing to substantiate that this is what he is doing. It is one of many possibilities, not a statement of fact about Filin's motives or that of his legal team.

If she follows advise of Urin to go to law enforcement regarding extortion, then one assumes he is saying to make a criminal complaint.

He wouldn't have advised her to go to the police if it were a civil charge. He's told her to put her money where her mouth is if her allegations are correct and provable and to go to the police, where the prosecutors will decide whether there is a criminal case against anyone at the Bolshoi.

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Would testimony (e.g., a statement under oath) constitutes proof under Russian law? It is, under New York law. Of course, to win on a claim, one would have to meet a certain burden of proof, based on assessments of credibility and an evaluation of competing evidence (including testimony of other witnesses). So when you mention a need to "back it up with evidence," are you saying her word is not enough, or is not enough to satisfy a burden of proof to win or defeat a claim in court? (If testimony does not suffice, one questions how one would ever bring a case. Solely with respect to the issue of testimonial evidence, I am reminded of the need to prove rape by outside witnesses in certain cultures, which often, but not always, does not occur in the presence of outside witnesses.).

If he were to bring a claim, wouldn't he have the burden of proof, or is that not the case in Russia? Also, in New York, I believe he would have to show special damages, or a specific harm. He is a public figure involved in labor negotiations about conditions of workers. I doubt he could establish any financial suffering from her saying she was not treated well in her job. Nor could he establish malice, which is necessary here. Of course, I have no idea about the laws there.

In any event, my point about threats is, what would be her incentive for bringing a civil claim or reporting to law enforcement for them to decide whether to bring a criminal action? In a hostile environment, which is described on these boards as, to some degree, lawless, contemptuous of a system of legal justice, and governed by politics and thuggery (as also evidenced by the attack on Filin), she would be subjecting herself to further threats not to testify, which could be physically, emotionally, and financially dangerous to her and her family. What would she achieve by testifying or even by going to law enforcement? Does one really think any positive reform would result (that calls for speculation, but one has good reason to make a pessimistic cost/benefit analysis in this regard.)

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If you google - Russian defamation law - lots of informative articles come up. Here's one from the Library of Congress reporting that defamation has been re-criminalized: http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205403291_text

Suffice it to say that Russia does not have a 1st amendment/bill of rights, as we do to the U.S. Constitution, nor does Russia have 200+ years of common law precedent for what free speech means.

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Would testimony (e.g., a statement under oath) constitutes proof under Russian law? It is, under New York law. Of course, to win on a claim, one would have to meet a certain burden of proof, based on assessments of credibility and an evaluation of competing evidence (including testimony of other witnesses). So when you mention a need to "back it up with evidence," are you saying her word is not enough, or is not enough to satisfy a burden of proof to win or defeat a claim in court?

Are you suggesting that anyone who walks into a police station and makes an accusation has their word accepted at face value with no corroborating evidence, that the prosecutors automatically will accept it -- estimated 99% conviction rate in Russia -- and that the accused will sit back and not say, "S/he's lying" or "S/he misunderstood"?

"Backing it up with evidence" might be notes from phone calls, a paper trail, an audit of books and bank accounts, corroborating witnesses, police investigations, etc.

Going to the police doesn't even necessarily mean testifying: it could be providing enough for them to decide to investigate and gather their own evidence.

If he were to bring a claim, wouldn't he have the burden of proof, or is that not the case in Russia? Also, in New York, I believe he would have to show special damages, or a specific harm. He is a public figure involved in labor negotiations about conditions of workers. I doubt he could establish any financial suffering from her saying she was not treated well in her job. Nor could he establish malice, which is necessary here. Of course, I have no idea about the laws there.

So far, no Russian legal experts have either discussed this in the media or volunteered to post about the specifics. There are much more stringent libel laws in Great Britain, for example, than in NY. There are different burdens of proof depending on place. Without knowledge of Russian law, any answer would be speculation.

In any event, my point about threats is, what would be her incentive for bringing a civil claim or reporting to law enforcement for them to decide whether to bring a criminal action? In a hostile environment, which is described on these boards as, to some degree, lawless, contemptuous of a system of legal justice, and governed by politics and thuggery (as also evidenced by the attack on Filin), she would be subjecting herself to further threats not to testify, which could be physically, emotionally, and financially dangerous to her and her family. What would she achieve by testifying or even by going to law enforcement? Does one really think any positive reform would result (that calls for speculation, but one has good reason to make a pessimistic cost/benefit analysis in this regard.)

There are plenty of reasons for it not to be worth it for her personally to go to the police: that's up to her unless there is the equivalent of a subpoena, where she could be forced to testify, based on her already public accusation.

As far as what she could achieve, justice perhaps, on behalf of the dancers of a venerable institution that was her dream but has disappointed her so. Not letting criminals pursue criminal activity and hurt other people is another reason she might. Of course it's up to her to decide if it's worth it, but, in the meantime, the people she accuses in the press of criminal behavior without pursuing criminal charges through the system have the right to point her to the process and to defend themselves against her accusations in any legal way they see fit.

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Would testimony (e.g., a statement under oath) constitutes proof under Russian law? It is, under New York law. Of course, to win on a claim, one would have to meet a certain burden of proof, based on assessments of credibility and an evaluation of competing evidence (including testimony of other witnesses). So when you mention a need to "back it up with evidence," are you saying her word is not enough, or is not enough to satisfy a burden of proof to win or defeat a claim in court?

Are you suggesting that anyone who walks into a police station and makes an accusation has their word accepted at face value with no corroborating evidence, that the prosecutors automatically will accept it -- estimated 99% conviction rate in Russia -- and that the accused will sit back and not say, "S/he's lying" or "S/he misunderstood"?

"Backing it up with evidence" might be notes from phone calls, a paper trail, an audit of books and bank accounts, corroborating witnesses, police investigations, etc.

Going to the police doesn't even necessarily mean testifying: it could be providing enough for them to decide to investigate and gather their own evidence.

If she were subpoenaed in someone else's civil case, or deposed in his civil suit against her, then her testimony alone would constitute evidence in New York. Whether the evidence would be sufficient to meet a burden of proof, I cannot say. If she were sued criminally (after he went to law enforcement authorities and lodged a complaint, I assume), then she would have a right not to testify in New York. I don't know what the law is in Russia in this regard.

I doubt the prosecutors would bring a case with a 99% conviction rate against the powerful leaders or patrons (inside and outside of government) of the theatre. The more typical behavior against those not in power involves a campaign of defamation, harassment, and threats, or the disregard of any complaint against those in power. The prosecutor would simply exercise discretion or say he lacks sufficient evidence to bring a case. I would suggest that his focus on her statement brings more attention to it.

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Helene states: "n the meantime, the people she accuses in the press of criminal behavior without pursuing criminal charges through the system have the right to point her to the process and to defend themselves against her accusations in any legal way they see fit."

Response: If she is telling the truth, then he does not have to say "she is lying" automatically, as you suggest. He could say nothing, or he could say, "I have investigated, and she is telling the truth, and I am sorry, and I am trying to fix things so no one else gets hurt."

Alternatively, he could say, "That is life, it is outside the theatre, we don't condone it." Or he could say, "What is wrong with having a sponsor?" I don't know what Russian law is in that regard.

She did not necessarily go to the press with a scandal or threat. She probably gave an interview and probably answered a question about why she quit, honestly, although not necessarily shrewdly.

Unfortunately, as I said above, often defense does not involve "any legal way they see fit", based on my reading of these boards.

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Helene states: "n the meantime, the people she accuses in the press of criminal behavior without pursuing criminal charges through the system have the right to point her to the process and to defend themselves against her accusations in any legal way they see fit."

Response: If she is telling the truth, then he does not have to say "she is lying" automatically, as you suggest.

You did not respond to my statement in context. I asked "Are you suggesting that anyone who walks into a police station and makes an accusation has their word accepted at face value with no corroborating evidence, that the prosecutors automatically will accept it -- estimated 99% conviction rate in Russia -- and that the accused will sit back and not say, "S/he's lying" or "S/he misunderstood"?"

In other words, is the statement of a person who goes to the police about any charge -- not applicable to Womack -- automatically accepted without question, and do you expect the person accused to accept charges -- again, not specific to Womack, because she did not go to the police with evidence of criminal activity -- to sit back and not refute them?

The "he" remains anonymous, since, according to an article in "The Telegraph" in today's Links, she's not planning to name who told her about spending $10K/role/performance, "because I greatly respect him." Given the context of her statement, that she "learned" about the going price from this highly respected person, it doesn't follow automatically that this person was the one receiving bribes.

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She probably gave an interview and probably answered a question about why she quit, honestly, although not necessarily shrewdly.

I read one of the articles and it said the reporter had talked to her, but I don't remember if it said it was an "interview", so I'm not even sure that qualifies as an accusation made to or through the press.

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Helene states: "n the meantime, the people she accuses in the press of criminal behavior without pursuing criminal charges through the system have the right to point her to the process and to defend themselves against her accusations in any legal way they see fit."

Response: If she is telling the truth, then he does not have to say "she is lying" automatically, as you suggest.

You did not respond to my statement in context. I asked "Are you suggesting that anyone who walks into a police station and makes an accusation has their word accepted at face value with no corroborating evidence, that the prosecutors automatically will accept it -- estimated 99% conviction rate in Russia -- and that the accused will sit back and not say, "S/he's lying" or "S/he misunderstood"?"

In other words, is the statement of a person who goes to the police about any charge -- not applicable to Womack -- automatically accepted without question, and do you expect the person accused to accept charges -- again, not specific to Womack, because she did not go to the police with evidence of criminal activity -- to sit back and not refute them?

The "he" remains anonymous, since, according to an article in "The Telegraph" in today's Links, she's not planning to name who told her about spending $10K/role/performance, "because I greatly respect him." Given the context of her statement, that she "learned" about the going price from this highly respected person, it doesn't follow automatically that this person was the one receiving bribes.

How often does an extortion attempt, if that is even the word she used, come in writing or on tape? Sometimes, I guess, but one could just as readily assume someone pulled her aside and whispered something in her ear, or more loudly threatened her, in a conversation. Even if someone slapped her, which is not alleged, what "back up" would she have if she were to complain about that?

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It makes extortion attempts difficult to prove as well as difficult to defend against, when they're words in the air. Dmitrichenko has been making similar accusations without having proven anything and without any corroborating witnesses, aside from one who made vague accusations himself, and according to recent articles on the trial, the prosecutors' turn is up. Money doesn't just disappear. It comes from one place and ends up in another.

As far as what Womack has disclosed and whether she knew she was being interviewed, there are three articles in today's Links to which I linked above which provide some clarity.

The police and prosecutors can investigate when they have what they consider at least a creditable lead, and that includes having forensic accountants review books and bank accounts. It includes wire-taps, subpoenaed records, email reviews, undercover work, recorded conversations, etc.

The real question is how much someone who is unwilling to go to criminal authorities about criminal behavior can say without consequence. So far, Womack has suffered no consequence from speaking: she had already left the Bolshoi, and she was hired by the Kremlin State Ballet

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But from what I read, Womack did not pay money, but rather, left, so I don't know what kind of money would be at issue or be subject to forensic analysis. If someone asks you for money and you say no, and then you tell a friend that, because you are scared or upset, or naive or trusting and honest, well, poor girl. I am sure she will suffer some consequences; she already felt she had to leave.

If the sophisticated, experienced head of a theatre hears about it and has his lawyer threaten a criminal liable suit in the press, I would question what is he so scared of or defensive about that he would even address it or address it in that way. He could just have easily said nothing, or said that he would investigate it, or said that sponsorship is not wrongful.

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