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    Russian government not sure it can afford Bolshoi renovation

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    Moscow, August 4 (RIA Novosti, Natalia Kurova) - The Russian government cannot afford to renovate the Bolshoi Theater in the next few years, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref told a press conference Thursday.

    He said the cost of the renovation, estimated by the Bolshoi administration at $874 million, would be too heavy a burden for the national treasury and that his ministry and the Ministry of Culture were cooperating to optimize the outlay.

    Bolshoi Managing Director Anatoli Iksanov said the $874 million financial plan, which takes into account both the company's interests and the heritage conservation concerns, has been approved by all relevant government agencies, except for the Ministry of Economics. According to this plan, some $716.68 million is to be spent for the renovation of the Bolshoi's headquarters, while the remaining $158 million is to go to revamp an adjacent house and a set of buildings used by the theater for storage, Iksanov said.

    Federal Culture Agency head Mikhail Shvydkoi mentioned the same figure in discussing the project with President Vladimir Putin earlier this year. He said a maximum degree of transparency would be ensured during the renovation work. Putin pledged the money needed for the project and said he would personally control it.

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