Aras Agalarov did not drown in the sea of sanctions

A controversial Russian billionaire close to Vladimir Putin accused of meddling in US elections has escaped sanctions and taken his family to the US.
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One of the richest people in Russia, Aras Agalarov, advocates Putin’s lifelong rule, receives billions of state contracts from the Kremlin without competition, cooperates with United Russia, and even appeared in the US election interference scandal, but still has not been included in Western sanctions lists . Moreover, the wife and daughter of the oligarch became US citizens and live in Miami.

Miami - Patriot's Choice

“I absolutely sincerely believe that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is an ideal option for Russia,” Aras Agalarov, owner of the Crocus Group, assured 10 years ago. - If he agreed <to life rule - The Insider>, then I would only welcome. <...> The country will fall apart with your Navalny.”

In interviews, Agalarov often emphasizes his commitment to Russia, despite his Azerbaijani roots. And citizenship, as stated, he has one - Russian. The Agalarov family, however, prefers a completely different country. The daughter and wife of the oligarch settled in an elite house on the American coast.

After the start of a full-scale war with Ukraine, many Russian businessmen and politicians, fearing sanctions, transferred foreign property to trusted people. Agalarov was no exception. According to documents available to The Insider, last summer the oligarch registered his apartment in Miami for his wife, Irina Agalarova (Grill). His daughter Sheila Agalarova also lives at this address.

The housing of the Agalarovs is located on the island for the richest people - Fisher Island. It can only be accessed by private boat, helicopter or ferry. Apartment with an area of 266 m². estimated at $4.3 million.

Earlier, it was known about other real estate acquired by Agalarov in the United States. For example, a mansion in New Jersey.

Moreover, Agalarov's wife and daughter have American citizenship: The Insider found both women on the lists of American voters. Moreover, Irina is registered as a Republican, and Sheila as a Democrat.

The Agalarovs have a special interest in American politics.

Between Trump and United Russia

Aras Agalarov and his family were involved in an investigation into interference in the US elections in 2016, when the Kremlin was actively looking for compromising evidence to prevent Hillary Clinton from being elected.

The most notorious episode of this intervention was the hacking of Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters and the Democratic National Committee by hackers from the GRU (military units 26165 and 74455), known as Fancy Bear. After this hack, the files (in which, however, no special compromising evidence was found) were published by WikiLeaks, headed by Julian Assange.

But there was another episode of this election interference case, also investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. We are talking about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who defended the defendants in the Magnitsky case (about a large-scale fraudulent scheme for withdrawing money from the Russian budget, uncovered by lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, later killed in a Russian prison).

Veselnitskaya's key client was the owner of Prevezon Holdings, Denis Katsyv, who was sanctioned for laundering money taken under the Magnitsky scheme. One of Katsyv's Kremlin patrons was Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, known for his corruption scandals.

Judging by the correspondence released as part of the American investigation, Trump was promised some “high-level secrecy” information coming from the Russian prosecutor general (it is not known what was eventually transferred, but Donald Trump Jr. himself said he was disappointed). This meeting was organized through the son of Agalarov, Emin, who was trying to make a musical career. Emin's relationship with Trump was not a big secret, Trump even starred in one of Emin's videos.

Aras Agalarov was also well acquainted with Trump personally, and long before that presidential campaign. In 2013, they agreed on a business partnership in the construction industry and jointly organized beauty contests. And during the election campaign, Agalarov gave Trump expensive gifts: in particular, a painting worth tens of thousands of dollars. Agalarov denies that he spoke to Trump on behalf of Vladimir Putin, but Trump could hardly be unaware of Agalarov's good contacts in the Kremlin.

An interesting coincidence - it was Agalarov who, as an advertisement (that is, for money), published an article in Kommersant on his own behalf in defense of Chaika after the FBK's revealing investigation into his corruption cases. And Chaika, in turn, publicly defended the fraudsters from the Magnitsky case and stated that "there is not a single fact in the case."

Of course, Agalarov's Kremlin contacts are not limited to Chaika alone. So, for example, he is one of the largest contractors of United Russia. The party held its congresses in the Crocus Expo exhibition center owned by the oligarch, and a catering company owned by his son provides United Russia with meals and caters for their banquets.

Corrupt contracts

Agalarov likes to say that he does not receive state contracts, but "carries out instructions" from the country's leadership. Including Putin personally, the photo of which hangs in the oligarch's office. He gets multibillion-dollar government orders bypassing competitive procedures.

So, Agalarov received contracts for the construction of stadiums for the World Cup, facilities of the Far Eastern Federal University, the Vostochny cosmodrome, an anti-covid hospital, and the Central Ring Road around Moscow. In 2021, Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.2 billion.

More recently, in August 2023, Agalarov's Crocus International JSC received another contract worth 10.5 million rubles from the Federal Customs Service. for the design of the automobile checkpoint Torugart in the Kyrgyz Republic. Again, no bidding.

But the son of the oligarch Emin Agalarov, as noted by The Insider, formally receives contracts based on the results of the auction - however, bogus ones. So, for the right to hold a banquet for 37.5 million rubles. only two firms competed for Moscow Region officials: Backstage Catering LLC and Crocus Event LLC. Both belong to Agalarov Jr.

Agalarov Sr. at this time is doing business together with the country's main defense corporation. Rostec and the oligarch own TechCity Development LLC in half. This firm was established two years ago to implement the Rostec City project, a business complex headquartered by Sergei Chemezov on the territory of the Tushino airfield.

Despite all these close ties with the Russian authorities and with defense corporations, Aras Agalarov was not included in any sanctions lists, except for the Ukrainian one.