“On a number of issues, personally, I’m not even ready to even understand her anymore,” Edgard Zapashny, head of the Great Moscow Circus on Vernadsky Street, said today about the director of the Kazan Circus Elmira Bulatova in a conversation with BUSINESS Online. The reason for such conversations was a night party, for which the organizers rented the famous Kazan “flying saucer”. Meanwhile, Zapashny admits that the conflict is much deeper and he is dissatisfied with the fact that the Kazan Circus, which is under the jurisdiction of the republic, in the person of its director, announced a temporary cessation of cooperation with the Russian State Circus and the Great Moscow Circus in programming. The opinion of the parties is in our material.
“Such a letter was indeed received by Rustam Nurgalievich”
For almost a year now, the most famous people in the circus world of Russia have been haunted by the figure of the new director of the Kazan Circus, Elmira Bulatova. Now this has resulted in letters addressed to Rustam Minnikhanov with a request to organize an audit for the suitability of her position. In particular, today the receipt of such a document from the director of the Great Moscow Circus on Vernadsky Street, Edgard Zapashny, was confirmed to our newspaper by the head of the press service of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Lilia Galimova: “Such a letter was indeed received by Rustam Nurgalievich, it was sent for consideration by Deputy Prime Minister Fazleeva.”
All this is a loud echo of the event that happened in the circus on the night of April 28-29, where a noisy Focus Show party was held. Kazan organizers of entertainment events for young people, in search of new formats and venues, drew attention to the famous “flying saucer” in the center of the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan and rented it for a time when circus performances are not held here, inviting viewers to “find themselves in a spring fairy tale” and return to childhood .
However, the very next day, perhaps the most media figure of the modern Russian circus, Zapashny burst into a post on his Telegram channel. “Disco throughout the circus, including the main arena, the sale of alcohol inside and outside the circus. Selling electronic cigarettes right in the building of a cultural institution,” wrote a well-known trainer. “I consider it necessary to conduct an audit on this event and raise the issue of inconsistency with the post of director of the Kazakh State Circus Elmira Bulatova.” He also recalled that the arena is a holy place for circus performers who, according to the old tradition, “do not even sit with their backs to it.” Zapashny accompanied all this with several videos from the Focus Show. True, there was nothing particularly criminal about them, but alcohol and electronic cigarettes were indeed sold in the circus foyer, and some other guests were dancing in the arena itself.
The director of the Great Moscow Circus on Vernadsky devoted several more posts to this story, but the day before the situation went beyond the private opinion of a caring member of the circus community. Zapashny wrote that a number of well-known people in the professional community, including himself, wrote letters to Minnikhanov, in fact, asking him to fire Bulatova. Among the authors of the messages, our hero named the general director of the Russian State Circus Sergei Belyakov, the chairman of the union of circus artists Askold Zapashny and “a number of artists of the Republic of Tatarstan.”
One of these letters was posted by the director of the circus on Vernadsky Street, its author is Grant Ibragimov, People’s Artist of Russia, bear trainer and once a graduate of the Kazan circus school. According to the latter, a night party at the arena in the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan is detrimental to all circus art. And during Bulatova’s leadership, “the quality of programs has deteriorated greatly,” because, writes Ibragimov, in Kazan they refuse to cooperate with the Russian State Circus and the Great Moscow Circus. And these words of the artist, who, by the way, left the post of director of the Omsk Circus in the mid-2000s after the appearance of a criminal case against him on extortion of a bribe, bring the discussion to a new level.
“At least someone raised the question that loud music violated the regime of white tigers, ostriches, zebras?”
Returning to the night party in the circus, the organizer of the party, Kristina Shevyakova, admitted that she was not aware of the appeals to Minnikhanov. But she once again denied the information about drinking alcohol and smoking in the arena. In addition, after the start of the public scandal, the circus management did not express any complaints to her. “I don’t want to desecrate this story. My idea was to bring some magic to the world. This is a story about childhood for adults, ”commented Shevyakova.
According to the director of the Kazan Circus himself, the organizers of the party did not inflict any damage on them and no cases of smoking were recorded either, although all the video recordings have yet to be reviewed. “There was a young, decent and non-drinking audience,” Bulatova notes in a conversation with BUSINESS Online.
Zapashny, on the other hand, wrote in Telegram that the last time he saw this was “at the end of the last century in the Kirov Circus, and even then, in very difficult times for finances, the director was removed from his post for this.” True, as recently as May 1, coach Katya Guru, known for her “naked yoga” technique, celebrated her birthday in his Great Moscow Circus on Vernadsky. The millionaire blogger staged a show that day with elements of yoga, balancing act and musical numbers, and Ivanushki International became the headliners of the evening.
Zapashny also in his posts hinted at the violation of the law by those who organized the night show and allowed it to be held in the Kazan circus. “Are we allowed to sell vapes? Did people stand at this disco who checked passports – an adult or a minor? he asked questions today in a conversation with our correspondent. – And at least someone from the press raised the question that at night, until four in the morning, there was a disco in the room where the animals are kept? At least someone raised the question that loud music violated the regime of white tigers, ostriches, zebras? Has anyone thought about this? The leader who was appointed to this post was obliged to take into account this factor.
Also, according to Zapashny, the security forces, in particular the UBEP, became interested in the Focus Show. True, in the circus itself the fact of checks was not confirmed to us. The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan, which is in charge of the Kazan Circus, limited itself to commenting that the situation is being considered.
“She is not ready to work personally with Zapashny, but she will take artists who quit Zapashny”
And yet, the complaints about alcohol and vapes at the Focus Show are just an excuse to talk about the policy of the director of the Kazan Circus, and Zapashny himself admits this. “The devil is in the details, and this (disco in the circus – ed.) is just a high-profile case, but the question of Elmira Bulatova’s inconsistency with her position should really be raised. Because on a number of issues I personally am no longer ready to even understand it, ”our interlocutor admits.
Back in May 2022, Zapashny, whom the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan Irada Ayupova called twice before to the commission for an open competition, as a result of which they tried to appoint the director of the Kazan Circus, unexpectedly reacted violently to Bulatova’s new position. “For me, the appointment came as a surprise… No one knew this, no one was consulted on this issue,” although the Ministry of Culture of Tatarstan, in fact, is not obliged to consult even with the most authoritative circus figures.
The appointment of Bulatova, famous in the circus world, but who did not hold any significant leadership positions, really seemed like a too hasty decision by Minister Ayupova, who lost her previous director Ramil Sharifullin as a result of a loud scandal. However, over the course of this year, the new leader left a rather pleasant impression of herself, thought about her own show with national flavor (Ayupova’s old dream), began to actively communicate with other cultural institutions of Kazan for collaborations, and finally showed excellent financial performance – for every ruble from the budget the circus earns 2.62 rubles. And deservedly won the top 50 most influential cultural figures according to our newspaper.
However, Zapashny has a completely different view on this. “I have really accumulated several claims against Elmira Bulatova,” he told BUSINESS Online. And it all allegedly started with the fact that in a conversation with the general director of the Russian State Circus Belyakov, the new chief of the Kazan “flying saucer” said that she would no longer work with the Russian State Circus and the Great Moscow Circus. As a result, according to Zapashny, he organized a general meeting, where Bulatova said that “in the next year and a half she will not cooperate with the Great Moscow Circus and the Rosgostsirk company, they have their own plans.”
“This, of course, surprised and upset me very much. But you can take from us both whole programs and individual numbers. For example, ask me for acrobats, gymnasts or some kind of trainer. We are doing this practice, – recalls Zapashny and says that this is how it works with almost all circuses in the country. – Suddenly she made an offer to clowns who had just quit me: Anvar Sattarov and Nikolai Konovalov. And then I realized that this is simply a human factor. She’s trying to show how cool she is. That she is not ready to work personally with Zapashny, but she will take artists who quit Zapashny, because this is still a very high level.
Bulatova herself explained it this way at a recent Internet conference in the editorial office of BUSINESS Online. “I had a difficult conversation with the director of the Russian State Circus company, Sergei Grigoryevich Belyakov. For now, we can’t work with them because we don’t fit into their tour schedule. They have a big logistical map: a lot of circuses, programs,” she said. “And the Kazan Circus today lives according to its own schedule, we build it ourselves … But for now we cannot accept the programs of the Russian State Circus, because they have already formed a schedule for 2023 and they will not break it for the sake of one city.” Bulatova also emphasized that before her arrival, the institution worked without an annual plan (“there were no work plans even for the next two months”), and now everything is scheduled until January 2024.
At the same time, it is often said in the circus world that Zapashny and his team are annoyed by the independence of the Kazan Circus and they would very much like this institution to become part of the Russian State Circus. “No one raises such a question and, by the way, never even raised it,” the director of the Grand Circus on Vernadsky assures. – The Kazan circus is republican, for a very long time it has been very well supported by the leadership of the republic, large, serious subsidies are allocated to it. By the way, not a single city in our country supports its circus as much as Kazan does. And here we must pay tribute to the leadership of the republic. Over the past 50 years, the Russian State Circus company has been constantly bringing here the best circus programs that today are in the modern circus. Such statements are probably a form of protection.”
Zapashny is also not sure about the financial success of the Kazan Circus. “She reported to the president immediately after the New Year that they had earned a lot of money there … During the New Year holidays, you can even plant a horse as a circus director, and still the horse will earn a full house. Because in the New Year is sold everywhere, everything and always. It says absolutely nothing,” says our interlocutor.
“Edgard Zapashny is a wonderful person, but the situation really interferes with work. Apparently, everyone has so much time,” sums up, in turn, Bulatova, who continues her work as director of the Kazan Circus.