Another example of Hollywood stars acting as "useful idiots":
The photos of Hollywood stars have been plastered all over the city for weeks, Dustin Hoffman looking down on Nikitsky Bulvar, Woody Allen and Steven Seagal, paired together on a billboard for probably the first time ever, on the Garden Ring.
This Saturday and Sunday the stars actually came together, apart from an absent Hoffman, at an event organized by the controversial charity Federation fund at a specially constructed outdoor stage at a closed-off Vorobyovy Gory, where Seagal danced, actor Kevin Costner played guitar and Woody Allen the clarinet before signing a black Hummer. It was that kind of event.
The gala did not have the surreality of the Federation fund’s previous celebrity event, a night in St. Petersburg where Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sang “Blueberry Hill” as Sharon Stone and Goldie Hawn, among other celebrities, watched on fawningly.
Dionne Warwick, Francis Ford Coppola, Sophia Loren, Andy Garcia and Isabella Rossellini were among the others who flew in despite recent accusations that the fund is more focused on publicity than raising money as well as a worrying lack of transparency.
Charity director Vladimir Kiselyov has said the fund does not raise money but links donors to hospitals. However, Russian media reported that many of the hospitals listed on the fund’s site do not have any connection with the fund. Kiselyov said the charity has donated more than $12 million to hospitals.
None of this has gone down well with many charities who have fought in the last decade to build trust among a cynical public suspicious of charity. The fund’s reluctance to release documents and its aversion to transparency goes against the basic principles of modern Russian charities, they say.
“Without documents these words do not mean anything,” said Yekaterina Bermant, director of the Children’s Hearts charity. “All our reputations are at risk, those who worked for years and got respect of the people.”
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The old Hollywood tradition from the time of the cold war seems to be unbroken: when Moscow calls, you go, whatever the reason.