According to Forbes, Rahimov’s shares in large Moscow real estate assets could be worth more than $ 500 million!
“Suffice it to say that a large number of people wander the streets, catching all the opportunities to buy money, and who get up every morning, not knowing what to do, because they do not have a real job or do not want to work at all; surrounded, while at every step involuntarily enticing them with luxury and excess, they, of course, cannot harbor anything but unkind feelings for the lucky people around them “(from Ilham Rahimov’s book” Philosophy of Crime and Punishment “).
A short, fit man of about sixty years old is walking along the central street. A law doctor from Baku who loves to wander around Moscow and tries not to notice the guards who follow on his heels. Why is there so much attention to the common scientist? It is Ilham Rahimov, a man considered by some to be one of the most powerful in modern Russia.
Unlike many other classmates of Vladimir Putin, Rahimov does not hold high positions. He lectures on jurisprudence at universities in Azerbaijan, is a partner in a small legal bureau in Baku, a member of the board of directors of a bank, which is also small. But, at the same time he is a co-owner of several Moscow shopping centers and several luxury hotels, and the cash flow from these shopping centers, the largest of which are “Evropeyskiy” and “Sadovod”, amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars! The fortune of each of the owners of the Kievskaya Ploshchad group of companies Zarakh Iliev and God Nisanov is estimated by Forbes at $ 2.5 billion. Until now, few people knew that a friend of Vladimir Putin is also a co-owner of some of their facilities.
Friends for forty years. “Ilham Rahimov is a person who must tell about his own biography,” says a functionary of the All-Russian Azerbaijan Congress, refusing to answer Forbes questions. “Not that he was the most secretive of us, but it’s just one thing – one man keeps a shop, and another is an Ilham Rahimov.” The presidium of the VAK includes, for example, the owner of the Crocus Group, Aras Agalarov, and the co-owner of Nortagaz, Farhad Akhmedov, but Rahimov is on a special account. He has very influential acquaintances.
Former military prosecutor and now human rights activist Leonid Polokhov recalls that Ilham Rahimov, Vladimir Putin and Viktor Khmarin not just talked, but were friends at home. Anatoly Rakhlin, the latter’s judo coach, also recalled the friendship between Rahimov, Khmarin and Putin (Rahimov also played this sport): allegedly Rahimov often visited Putin and knew his mother, and Putin often stayed overnight in the hostel where Rahimov lived. Finally, Ilham Rahimov himself, in a few interviews, confirmed that he and the current president of Russia were “friends for forty years” and that this friendship causes the envy of his enemies.
Ilham Rahimov was born in 1951 in the Tovuz region in northwestern Azerbaijan, on the border with Armenia. His uncle was a prosecutor, and at the age of 19, Ilham entered the law faculty of the prestigious Leningrad University. The head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Bastrykin (he was a Komsomol organizer), the former head of the Investigative Committee under the Ministry of Internal Affairs Vitaly Mozyakov, a well-known lawyer Nikolai Egorov, and several federal judges studied on the same course with Rahimov and Putin. Many entered the university after the workers’ school or the army, so that Rahimov and Putin were among the younger ones.
Leonid Polokhov says that Rahimov was the headman in the group, he was specially chosen because they knew that he would go to all classes and would not be late. At the university, Rahimov was interested in criminal law and still calls the head of the criminal law department of the law faculty of Leningrad State University Nikolai Belyaev as his teacher. After graduation in 1975, when Leonid Polokhov got a job at the Leningrad Prosecutor’s Office, and Vladimir Putin – in the KGB, the paths of friends diverged for a while.
In opposition. Rahimov remained a post-graduate student at the university, defended his candidate’s dissertation (and then his doctoral dissertation) and returned to Baku. There he made a career in the Ministry of Justice, where he worked for more than ten years, and from 1992 to 1996 he headed the Azerbaijan Institute of Forensic Science and Criminalistics. Over the years, Rahimov has strengthened his ties in the legal world – the future influential Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan, Eldar Hasanov, has appeared among his close friends. “Ilham Rahimov has always been a very respected lawyer in the republic,” recalls the former head of the country’s largest oil refinery in Baku and ex-speaker of the Milli Mejlis (Azerbaijani parliament) Rasul Guliyev, now living in the United States.
When he was the second person in the state, Guliyev enjoyed the fame of a rich man, an “oil king”, and in 1994 he traveled to Russia for negotiations. He talked with Pavel Grachev about the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, and with Energy Minister Yuri Shafranik and Lukoil head Vagit Alekperov agreed to allow the company to develop fields in the Caspian (the former president gave them at the mercy of British and American oilmen). As you know, Lukoil came to the Caspian Sea, but without Guliyev – in 1996, under pressure from political opponents, he had to resign from the post of speaker and leave for the United States. In December 1997, the Mejlis decided to deprive Guliyev of his deputy mandate for systematic failure to attend meetings.
Then Rahimov, a member of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, of which Guliyev was head, headed the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Rasul Guliyev. A deputy can only be deprived of his mandate with his consent, the lawyer argued, referring to the articles of the law “On elections”. “Rahimov supported me in difficult times,” Rasul Guliyev recalls in an interview with Forbes. The committee tried to appeal against the deprivation of Guliyev’s status in the Supreme Court, but in the spring of 1998, the Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan and Rahimov’s friend Eldar Hasanov accused Guliyev of embezzling $ 12 million and inflicting damage on the State Oil Corporation of Azerbaijan for $ 23 million. since then, the path to his homeland has been closed to him. In 2002, Ilham Rahimov himself ran for deputy of the Milli Mejlis from his native Tovuz district, but lost and since then has not openly participated in the political struggle.
Palace by the sea.
Formally, Rahimov went into business only in 1999, after Vladimir Putin was appointed prime minister of the Russian Federation. He left the post of vice-rector of the Higher Diplomatic College in Baku and headed the legal department of Lukoil-Azerbaijan. Rahimov’s acquaintances are sure that he still has interests in the Caspian oil business, but Forbes was unable to find direct evidence of this. In an interview, he said that his main business is related to real estate in Russia. But, at least one good deal took place elsewhere.
In the fall of 2011, on the southern coast of Crimea in the town of Parkovoye near Yalta, next to the dacha of the Minister of Internal Affairs, the grand opening of the Crimean Breeze luxury hotel took place. 20 hectares of land, a forest, a private beach, health complexes, heated pools with jacuzzis, villas built of natural stone … Crimean officials, deputies and representatives of the hotel business were invited to cut the ribbon. As soon as it opened, Crimean Breeze applied for an international 5-star rating. During the season, a night in the cheapest hotel room will cost 5000 hryvnia ($ 615).
The government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea secured this site, adjacent to the reserved lands, by a special decree in 2003 for Rissko LLC, the only founder and head of which was Rahimov Ilham Mammadgasan oglu. On the rented plot, Rissko began to build a luxurious palace. The contractor then told reporters that he was told not to spare money and to cover the walls with at least gilding.
Rahimov did not answer the questions of Forbes, so it is impossible to say for sure why the lawyer needed this construction. Where does the money come from? In 2003, Rahimov could already receive income from the Panorama and Electronic Paradise on Prazhskaya shopping centers, which were launched in Moscow by his partners Nisanov and Iliev.
The Ukrainian media wrote about the site in Parkovoye as one of the first “Putin’s palaces”, which harbors a passion for the Black Sea, sheltered from hostile Western regimes. Perhaps the professor made a dacha for himself. The work was in full swing: in 2003, the cost of “unfinished construction” on the balance sheet of Rissko was 24 million rubles, in 2004 – already 240 million. Later it was discovered that construction was carried out in parallel with design (this is prohibited) and trees were cut down with violations. The brother of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Crimean government was in charge of the construction, and they did not pay attention to such trifles.
At the turn of 2004-2005, during the Orange Revolution, the government changed in Ukraine. This affected the construction of the “dacha” – the most favored nation regime was terminated; it is possible that the customer’s attitude towards Ukraine has become worse. Rahimov did not stay for a loss. At the end of 2005, 26% of Rissko’s shares belonged to a certain Ozon LLC, a 100% subsidiary of one of the powerful production units of the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom Dobycha Orenburg. And before that, the authorized capital of Rissko had grown so much that the cost of Gazprom’s stake amounted to 613 million rubles. So, by the beginning of 2007, Ozon had consolidated all shares worth 2.3 billion. Crimean Rada deputies and journalists of the Krymskaya Pravda newspaper wrote that Gazprom’s subsidiary had bought Rissko from Ilham Rahimov. Why is the upstream division of the gas concern a fashionable resort in Crimea? For a month, the press service of Gazprom and its subsidiaries have been dealing with Forbes’ request, but they have not given an answer. It is only clear that Gazprom Dobycha Orenburg has erected a five-star Crimean Breeze on the site received by Rahimov. A representative of this company, together with Crimean officials, attended the opening ceremony.
By the way, about the resorts. Ilham Rahimov spent his childhood in the northwestern part of Azerbaijan, and then began to travel to rest closer to the northeast, to the Kuba region. Through the district prosecutor, he once met the director of a city-forming enterprise, a cannery, Semyon Nisanov. The acquaintance marked the beginning of a long friendship between families. The Nisanov family lived in the Kuba region, in the village of Krasnaya Sloboda, a compact settlement of Mountain Jews in Azerbaijan. Ilham Rahimov does not belong to this nationality, but this did not prevent true friendship.
By the beginning of 2001, God Semenovich Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev already owned a part of the Cherkizovsky market, the Riga electronics market and entered into a joint project with the Moscow government of the wholesale and retail trade center (ORTC) “Moscow”. True, the “face” of Cherkizon was then another mountain Jew, Telman Ismailov, and few knew Nisanov and Iliev as independent figures.
The idea of building the Moscow ORTs Center on the site of a bearing plant in the Lyublino district belonged to the head of the Moscow consumer market department, Vladimir Malyshkov. “In architectural and artistic terms, it is necessary to create a unified image of a modern European shopping center,” wrote the dreamers-authors of the concept in 1998. It was supposed to trade in products and flowers. The structures of Zarakh Iliev and God Nisanov won a government tender in the same year, but there were no shopping centers of this size in Moscow yet, and young developers risked getting bogged down in approvals.
However, at the turn of the century, an event occurred that changed the fate of many people: Vladimir Putin became president. This gave a powerful impetus to the career growth of many of his acquaintances. Alexander Bastrykin in 2001 from the Russian Law Academy moved to the Ministry of Justice, heading the department for the Northwestern Federal District. Vitaly Mozyakov headed the Investigative Committee under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Leonid Polokhov recalls that Ilham Rahimov and Viktor Khmarin then turned to him and said: let’s work together. He refused, and Rahimov and Khmarin, it turns out, “began to work.”
By 2000, God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev already had a rather big business, it then began to grow rapidly. Nisanov and Iliev have long overtaken Telman Ismailov, a senior comrade, creator of the Cherkizovsky market, in the Forbes list. Is this connected with the fact that the Nisanovs’ “family friend” is at the helm of the country? Perhaps the lion’s share of the success of the natives of Azerbaijan owe their entrepreneurship. However, one circumstance should be noted. The business of Nisanov and Iliev demonstrates resistance to attacks of different levels. Here are some examples.
In 2002, Nisanov and Iliev bought a promising site near the Kievskaya metro station, on which the Evropeyskiy shopping center, one of the most expensive in the city, was subsequently erected. A major Moscow developer and their competitor says the site has not been put up “on the open market.” The decrees of the Moscow government related to the construction were stamped in batches, as if the project were led by Inteko. The work was not going well in Moscow style, the number of storeys grew, the area too, reaching 180,000 square meters. m. A large-scale construction project in the center of the city could not fail to interest a lot of people who are used to getting their share. In the spring of 2006, an informed State Duma deputy, Alexander Khinshtein, told the media that the FSB had sent a request to the Moscow prosecutor about whether such a heavy shopping center would accidentally cause a collapse at a metro station. The request was not answered. In the summer of the same year, Khinshtein and the head of Rosprirodnadzor Oleg Mitvol, accompanied by journalists, tried to inspect the construction site for the fact that it was in the water protection zone. The guards, having informed that the leadership was on vacation, did not let the delegation in. There were no consequences for the developers. “Evropeyskiy” opened, is considered one of the best shopping centers in the capital and costs more than $ 1 billion. A businessman from Rahimov’s entourage believes that he is a co-owner of the center.
The next year, in 2003, Moscow held a competition for the right to manage the city package in JSC “Sadovod”. In fact, it was about the possibility of using the site at the 14th kilometer of the Moscow Ring Road – 41 hectares. The tender was won by Trade Investments (part of the Kievskaya Ploschad group). The loser “Emeral” tried to challenge the results in the courts of all instances, but failed. Now “Sadovod” is the largest wholesale market in the country, its territory is constantly expanding and reconstructing. According to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, 15% of Trade Investments belongs to Ilham Rahimov, his contribution to the authorized capital is 15 million rubles. In May 2009 Telman Ismailov opened the luxurious Mardan Palace hotel in Turkey with fanfare. A month later, Vladimir Putin demanded “landings” ine the case of smuggling at the Cherkizovsky market, and that summer it was closed. despite diplomatic protests from Kyrgyzstan and China. Who benefited from this operation? The traders from Cherkizon moved first to the Moscow shopping center, and then to Sadovod.
When the company “Biscuit” bought the hotel “Ukraine” at a fierce auction for 8 billion rubles, God Nisanov himself participated in the auction. During the reconstruction of a high-rise building, one of the towers collapsed; spiteful critics hoped that the authorities would take the historic building away from it. Nothing of the kind, Radisson Royal (“Ukraina”) works, and Rahimov’s share, according to our data, is also there, albeit less than 10%.
The case of “Three Whales” and “Grand” has already gone down in history as an example of a war of special services: on the one hand – the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Customs and Investigative Committees, on the other – the FSB and the prosecutor’s office, who “covered” furniture smuggling. Beginning with an investigation into illegal supplies worth tens of millions of dollars, which is ridiculous by modern standards, the war turned into high-profile arrests, the publication of wiretaps and the resignation of influential persons. In the midst of the struggle, the Chechen partners of the main person involved in the case of Sergei Zuev, Magomed and Sumayd Khalidov, sold the Grand shopping center. The owner of the center was the “Grand Title” company (part of the Kievskaya Ploshchad group). According to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, a 15% stake in it belongs to Ilham Rahimov. In 2005, when the deal was closed, Zuev tried to accuse partners of having drugged him and tricked him into agreeing to sell. In 2006, Putin put an end to the struggle of the special services by removing Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov from his post and putting Yuri Chaika in his place. Zuev was sent to prison. Nobody bothers the new owners of “Grand” anymore. The company “Grand Title” this year bought an unfinished skyscraper for $ 320 million, intended under Yuri Luzhkov for the residence of the Moscow government in Moscow City. So Rahimov will soon be a co-owner of the skyscraper.
The affairs of Rahimov’s partners did not suffer from the change of power in Moscow. After the resignation of Yuri Luzhkov, the owners of the All-Russian Exhibition Center, the Moscow government and the federal government agreed to begin the reconstruction of the territory of the former VDNKh. God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev “became the investors” of the project. How transparent was the procedure for selecting investors is a separate question. One way or another, Nisanov entered the board of directors of JSC VVTs, and a person from his team, Alexey Mikushko, became the general director.
For many years, the exhibition was a complete mess: the pavilions were rented out cheaply, but the proceeds did not reach the official cashier. The new administration began to put things in order: tenants were offered to pay market rates or leave the territory. They were outraged and found an ally in the person of the former Kaliningrad governor, and now the chairman of the board of directors of the All-Russian Exhibition Center, Georgy Boos. As one of the tenants told Forbes, Boos defended them and slowed down tough measures to free the territory. He held the post of chairman of the board for no more than a year, Natalya Sergunina, who replaced him, does not interfere with the policy of investors. “Yes, companies belonging to me are reconstructing the All-Russian Exhibition Center,” Ilham Rahimov confirmed in an interview with Novosti-Azerbaijan. “We intend to invest $ 3 billion in this project.” Where does the money come from? Rental income from objects of Nisanov,
It is difficult to find examples of such invulnerability in the history of Russian business. The Rotenberg brothers, Igor Sechin, and Alfa-Group also know defeats. The victory in each individual case could be explained by the ability of Iliev and Nisanov to work and find approaches to the city authorities, prosecutors, investigators, judges. But competitors like the owners of Emeral, who have run the largest construction fair for many years, are unlikely to be less adept at this science. It is ridiculous to imagine that Putin personally dealt with disputes between Kievskaya Square and GUBEP of the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Rosprirodnadzor. However, the name of “Putin’s friend”, classmate Bastrykin, etc. in itself can serve, as in computer games, as a shield, under which it is easy to pass level after level.
Three businessmen from the Forbes list said they knew about Rahimov’s friendship with Putin, which helps the business of Iliev and Nisanov. A spokesman for Nisanov and Iliev denies that Ilham Rahimov can somehow use his acquaintance with the president for business benefits. “We do not work with Gazprom, we have never received anything from the budget in our life,” Nadezhda Spiridonova convinces. “And his shares are just a family business, Ilham Rahimov invests money and provides consulting services as a lawyer.”
However, if the family business was supposed to sell shares, the cost of Ilham Rahimov’s minority stakes would have cost half a billion dollars. Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Putin and Rahimov have known each other since their student days, but now, as far as Peskov knows, they do not communicate regularly.
Multifaceted nature. Azerbaijani media write a lot about the powerful compatriot. Allegedly, he was one of the first in Baku to ride a Maybach. After the death of his wife, he built a hospital in memory of her in his native village of Dzhilovdarly, and recently almost married the popular singer Rukhi Aliyeva. However, Rahimov’s acquaintances say that he is very modest in everyday life. It is hard to believe. The official biography on the website of the legal bureau Fina, of which Rahimov is a partner, lists all the titles and merits of the scientist, even dubious ones like “the second Azerbaijani who was elected an academician of the Russian Academy of Security, Defense and Law and Order”. This public organization managed to present him with its “Order of Peter the Great” until it was liquidated by the decision of the Supreme Court for the illegal distribution of orders and medals.
Last year, the Olma publishing house published Rahimov’s book “The Philosophy of Crime and Punishment”. The text is replete with grammatical and punctuation errors, but the name is embossed on the leather cover with gold embossing, the paper is coated and the edges of the pages are gilded. In the book, devoted to the nuances of the concept of “punishment” in connection with criminal law, there are many color illustrations such as “Sisyphus” by Titian or “Kiss of Judas” by Giotto. The review was written by the head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, who also traveled with Rahimov to the presentation of the book in Baku.
They are looking for help in business from a Doctor of Laws. After the 2008 crisis, Rahimov received half of the Regional Investments company owned by Ruslan Shugubov, a St. Petersburg businessman with Azerbaijani roots. He fought for coal assets in the Komi Republic, however, despite the help of an influential partner, he went bankrupt and now has practically no business in Russia. Why share? Forbes questions were passed to Shugubov, but he did not answer.
Until now, Rahimov sits on the board of directors of Stolichny Credit Bank. “What do you mean, what is he doing there? – the head of the bank Marina Fomkina was annoyed by the questions of the journalist. – We invited a lawyer, not an artist, what’s so unusual about that? Fomkina made it clear that Rahimov does take part in council meetings, but perhaps the bank would only need to indicate his name among affiliated persons.
And Rahimov himself seems to be seriously interested in international relations. In 2010, he visited Ramil Safarov in prison, who, during a NATO English course in Hungary, hacked to death a sleeping Armenian officer, Gurgen Markarian, with an ax. “Ramil is studying English, I think … that he needs moral support,” Rahimov said to news agencies. Hungary recently extradited the murderer to his homeland, where he was immediately pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev.
Together with old friends – the former Prosecutor General, and now the energetic ambassador of Azerbaijan to Romania and Serbia Eldar Hasanov and fellow student Viktor Khmarin – Rahimov participates in the work of the International Fund for Cooperation and Partnership of the Black and Caspian Seas. Building friendship with the seas, the fund is currently engaged in a variety of projects, including the development of feed additives. But the most interesting project today is Sheremetyevsky. On 17 hectares of land near the Sheremetyevo airport, the fund plans to build about a million square meters of warehouses, offices, restaurants and other real estate. The volume of investments in the project exceeds $ 1 billion, if everything declared is built, its cost can pull up to $ 2.5-3 billion. Khmarin plans that 10,000 people will work at Sheremetyevsky. The premises will be rented by manufacturers from Turkey, and to come for shopping – wholesalers from all over Russia. The Turkish government partially subsidized rental rates to its producers, according to Khmarin, there is already an agreement with 4,200 Turkish firms.
This project alone is enough to straighten the trade balance between Turkey and Russia, which is strongly skewed in favor of Russia due to the export of hydrocarbons, Khmarin is sure. According to him, agreements have already been reached with the customs on the opening of a special customs post, equipment has been purchased, and there are permits for the construction of some facilities. Now the issue is being resolved with the former tenants of the land. Is Rahimov involved in the construction site? “He is a learned man, what kind of construction?” – Khmarin says with a laugh, but makes it clear that Rahimov is solving a number of issues related to the project. In other areas.