Interview of Emin Agalarov, famous Azerbaijani businessman of Russia, First Vice President of Crocus Group, People’s Artist of Azerbaijan, to ONA’s Moscow correspondent
- A film consisting of 8 series on Muslim Magomayev will be demonstrated in the new season on Channel 1 of Russia. It is said that the idea of the creation of such series belongs to you. How did the idea appear?
- Actually, the idea does not belong only to me. We will not be mistaken if we say the idea of shooting a TV-series on Muslim Magomayev belongs to many people who think on the necessity of creation of a film or films on Muslim in the movie world. Certainly, all of these suggestions were directed to Tamara Sinyavskaya. She assigned me for implementation of the suggestions and conduction of the negotiation process, as the process was very difficult. The negotiation process covers signing agreements, controlling the plot, and other important issues. I was an assistant of Tamara Sinyavskaya in these issues. We wanted the role of Muslim Magomayev to be at the level, which it should be. A fight started between Russian channels when we began to sign an agreement with Channel 1 and approved filming staff that will work on the project. Those channels also wanted to shoot a film on Muslim Magomayev. Then I got into difficulty. I had to say “no” many important persons, as we had an agreement with Channel 1 beforehand. I had an argument that if I agreed with someone beforehand, then I could not give the project to another one.
Later the main issue became writing the plot. Tamara Sinyavskaya took part in this process herself, as there are some moments that can only be remembered by Tamara Ilyinichna. For example, Muslim wore white hat not in 1969, but in 1972. Only Tamara Ilyinichna knows such points. Certainly, Tamara Sinyavskaya has great labor in the creation of the film.
Have you attended the selection of actors to be shot in TV series?
- Yes. The main point was the election of lead actors. It was very difficult. Of course to choosing the actors to perform Muslum Magomayev and Tamara Sinyavskaya was the main point. I did not attend the selection of an actress who will play the role of Tamara Ilinichna. I suppose nobody except Tamara Sinyavskaya should approve the actress to be selected for this role. However, we were very worried about the selection of actor to play the role of Muslim Magomedovich. But this actor was found. I think that Milosh Bikovich was the best choice to play this role. By approving Milosh for the role Magomayev we made a successful step. What we saw after first casting made it clear that our choice was successful. Tamara Ilyinichna had not seen the trial shooting. I called her and said that actor choice was phenomenal. In my opinion, this point makes the TV series more serious.
-Have you funded the project?
-No. I have not funded the TV series. There is a difficult financial scheme. The project is funded by production shooting the series and it has relations with Tv channel. I have played an organizer role here. I have assisted in making relations between filming staff and Tamara Sinyavskaya. I'm not the main attendee in this process in any case..I have played the role of assistant and the guarantor in high-level implementation of this project.
“I have spent about $ 12 mln to Zhara festivals held in Baku."
- I would like to ask you about the Zhara International Music Festival held in Baku. This festival has already become a brand. Zhara is also called a cultural bridge between Azerbaijan and Russia. Did you think that Zhara would contribute to the development of humanitarian and cultural ties between the two countries when you were planning this festival?
- Of course, I thought about it. I realized that any cultural event I held in the capital of Azerbaijan would probably have a positive impact on relations between the two countries. But I had an ordinary approach to it since the beginning. I just wanted to hold this event. I enjoy to invite my guests and show them my country and to be proud of it. It all started after that. When I organized the Zhara Festival I had the opportunity to invite a number of well-known Russian singers. Other singers offered to participate in this festival. Of course, as a hospitable host, I wouldn't say “no” to anyone. I invited those who wanted to perform in this festival. Of course, the filming group and the group of organizers grew up. We brought over 2,000 people to the festival held in Baku last summer. 250 artists performed on five stages in four days. Four of these stages were in Zhara and one was in the "Muz TV" concert program, and a free concert on the "Muz TV" stage was my gift to the capital residents who could not attend “Zhara". Some people could not attend because of the place of the festival were a little far away from Baku and the different prices of the tickets. That is why I decided to organize a free concert for compatriots who could not participate in Zhara. "Muz TV" is a channel that operates on the federal network. This channel is broadcast throughout Russia, Kazakhstan, and other countries. This channel has millions of viewers. And Zhara was broadcasted by Russia's First Channel.
- If it's not a secret how much money you have spent on Zhara so far and how much money you have earned?
- Unfortunately, I have not got any benefit from the 4 Zhara festivals have held so far. For comparison, last summer's Zhara was more profitable. As the popularity of the festival grows, so the loss decreases So far, I have spent about $ 12 million on four festivals. Someone buys a boat, a plane, an expensive car. I have a car, I do not have a plane and a boat. I spend money on the festival with pleasure. It seems to me that this is the most expensive thing I can "buy with money”. Of course, there is a big organizational process behind it. In addition, I plan to build hotels and apartments in the future by developing the Nardaran coast and the Sea Breeze, where the Zhara being held. I hope that I will ever be able to sell them and covering my financial loss I will be able to get the benefit. Although I will not make any profit from these projects in the future, I do it with great pleasure.
- Emin, your name has been mentioned with US President Donald Trump in world media in the last two years. What do you think, has this point helped you to become well-known as a singer or a businessman? In your opinion, does it have a positive effect on your image?
- I would say it is not such fame that is desired by any singer for himself. I was mentioned as a person who organizes US elections, transfers any secret documents, and organizes hidden meetings in this issue in media. When the news broadcasted on CNN, Fox News, Euronews, and other TV-channels, it does not help your music career, as you are not interesting as a singer, you are interesting from point of political view from that point. I am very away from politics, have always been in distance. I don’t plan to engage in policy anyway. I am a businessman and musician. All of these have prevented my international music career at a global level. Certainly, it removes you from creativity. Imagine that any music magazine takes an interview from you. It is firstly interested in your relations with Trump, but not in your music career, albums, concert tours... That is why I believe mentioning my name on these issues affected my image negatively. When it comes to your question that whether I became more famous due to these issues, I would say, probably, yes. We can see it when we write my name on Google. Did I want such kind of fame? No.
“If Muller handed me a summons, then I could not leave the United States before the end of the investigation”
- As we know, due to the investigation of the prosecutor Mueller, you could not go to the United States. Even rescheduled concerts. What is the situation now? Can you go to the USA? At the beginning of this year, in an interview with The Bell, you said that you would go on a US tour in the fall. Is giving a concert in the US still on the agenda?
- I could go to the USA. Entry into this country was unhindered. The fact is that Mueller’s investigation did not last one and a half years, but almost two. If at that time I would go to the USA and Muller would hand me a summons, then I could not leave the country before the end of the investigation. Of course, this jeopardized my tours and concerts. I have four children. So I decided to postpone the tour in the USA and five concerts. The investigation has already been completed. At the beginning of next year, in February I will go to the USA. This time I’ll give a big concert program.
“Have you been to the United States since then?”
- It was. Went this summer.
“For success in business, you need to believe in your idea”
- You are not only a successful singer but also a fairly successful businessman. What would you recommend to young people who want to build their business in Moscow - a city of opportunities?
- It's hard to give business advice. Business is always risky, not only in Moscow, but everywhere. Not every businessman can always succeed. It seems to me that the main thing for success in business is to believe in your idea. It needs to be well thought out. Naturally, to realize this idea you need to spend all your energy and time. It is necessary to try not to give up this idea, even if it is difficult to implement ... Sometimes it happens that it takes months, years, even decades to realize an idea. Therefore, it is necessary to continue to exert efforts without stopping. People who consider my father a successful businessman should know that it was not easy for him to achieve this success. There were cases when our company was one step away from bankruptcy. Thanks to a lot of work, a lot of work, he coped with all the difficulties. I always studied, watching my father, but I have to work and work. Today, as a fairly wealthy person, in principle, I can not come to work. But for business development, 90 percent of my life goes to this office. As you can see, this office is not so attractive - white walls, tables, chairs and papers. Yes, I would like to be with my children on some island now, but I have to be here at work. I've been here for 20 years.
Relation with the Azerbaijani Diaspora in Russia
- Emin, my last question is about the Azerbaijani diaspora in Russia. We would like to know about your attitude to the diaspora, the processes associated with the Azerbaijani diaspora. Your father Araz Agalarov at one time was one of the entrepreneurs who participated in the creation of the Azerbaijani diaspora.
- Yes, at one time, my father actively participated in the work of the Azerbaijani diaspora. At that time, along with his father, other well-known Azerbaijani businessmen in Russia took part in this work. Now I can’t say what my attitude towards the Azerbaijani diaspora is. It seems to me that now Azerbaijanis in Russia live separately. Here somewhere there is the fault of Azerbaijanis, they cannot unite. I have a very simple position on this issue. It consists in the fact that I try to support and support the holding of all the events that unite us. An example of this is the Heat Festival that I organize. It seems to me that “Heat” is a big event that unites us and makes, though not much, brighter the life of Azerbaijanis in Russia.