Critic of Russian Collection Society Elected as Chairman of Its Board

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for RFW
Music producer Igor Matvienko poses before the Alexander Gapchuk Fashion Show as part of Russian Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2007 on Oct. 21, 2006 in Moscow, Russia.

Changes are expected at Russia's embattled collecting society RAO as prominent producer and composer Igor Matvienko -- one of the organization's critics -- was elected chairman of its board, the authors' council. Matvienko was elected at a meeting of the authors' council on August 29, a RAO spokesman confirms to Billboard.

"Apparently, there will be changes," he said, but declined to provide any specifics.

At the same time, RAO's board rejected the idea of the organization's extraordinary conference, aimed at changing its regulations and replacing general director Sergei Fedotov, who is currently in jail on suspicion of fraud.

The idea was championed by little-known composers Igor Mateta and Yevgeny Kobylyansky and poets Alexander Vulykh and Sergei Sashin.

However, the authors' council saw it as an attempt to split the organization and stripped them of RAO membership.

Russian Collection Societies Break Ties Amidst Fog of Fraud

Meanwhile, RAO's spokesman didn't confirm recent reports in the Russian media that Fedotov might soon step down as general director.

"Replacement of the general director is not on the agenda," he said. "Only RAO's conference can appoint or dismiss the general director. The most recent conference was held this past April, and there is no need for a new one."

Matvienko, primarily known as the producer of the pop groups Lyube, Ivanushki International and Korni, has recently been among RAO's most ardent critics.

Last December, he and several other major Russian producers, including Viktor Drobysh, Igor Krutoi, Iosif Prigozhin, Konstantin Meladze and Maxim Fadeyev, called for changes to RAO's regulations that would allow companies to join the collecting society, which is currently open only to private individuals.

All of them run their own production companies and claimed that joining RAO as a company rather than an individual rights holder would guarantee more control over royalty collection and distribution.

Sergei Fedotov, Head of Russian Collection Agency RAO, Arrested for Fraud

Still, other collecting societies are skeptical about Matvienko's abilities to implement major changes in RAO's operations.

A spokesperson for RSP, which collects a one-percent tax on imports of devices that can be used for copying content and recently cut ties with RAO, pointed to several clauses in RAO's charter, saying that they considerably limit the authors' council's chairman's independence.

RAO has been heavily criticized over the last 12 months for insufficient transparency of operations.

Fedotov was jailed two months ago on suspicion of allegedly funneling 500 million rubles ($7.7 million) out of the organization in a series of dubious real estate deals.

Both RAO and Fedotov have denied any wrongdoing.