Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pakistani Ukrainian Oligarch's Newspaper Led Opposition to Yanukovich

Oligarchs have shaped politics in post-Soviet Russia and other former Soviet republics including The Ukraine since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. One such oligarch is Karachi-born Pakistani Ukrainian Mohammad Zahoor, a member of growing Pakistani diaspora which is already the world's 7th largest. He owns Kyiv Post newspaper which is widely believed to have led the campaign to topple pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Mohammad and Kamaliya Zahoor

In 1974, Zahoor left Karachi, Pakistan, for the Soviet Union to study metallurgy in Donetsk in the Ukraine. Though he moved back with his Russian wife to work at Pakistan Steel Mills plant in Karachi, Pakistan upon graduation but he didn’t stay there long.

“Having a Russian wife limited my career development there,” he told Newsweek. “The secret services were also very active during the ’80s, and I thought it better to leave.” He moved to Moscow to work for a Pakistani steel company in the late ’80s, and hasn’t looked back since

He learned Russian and metallurgy well. Then he eventually found a way to apply those skills in Ukraine, one of the world’s top 10 steel-exporting nations. Zahoor also displayed a talent for knowing when to get out of a business, as he did in 2008 by selling his Donetsk steel mill for a top-drawer price of $1 billion, according to Kyiv Post. He has since invested in media and real estate businesses.

Zahoor With Trophy Wife Kamaliya

Zahoor divorced his first wife to marry Kamaliya (born as Natalya Shmarenkova in 1977) in 2003. Kamaliya won Mrs. World title in 2008. She is involved in charitable work in both Ukraine and Pakistan. They live in a mansion designed to resemble Dubai’s hotel Burj al-Arab in the suburbs of Kyiv. The couple had twin daughters last year. Zahoor has two grown children, Arman and Tanya, from his previous marriage.

Zahoor and Kamaliya have starred in a Fox Entertainment reality show "Meet the Russians". Kamaliya has a singing career with hit singles like "Crazy In My Heart," "Rising Up," and "Butterflies," and she is also famous for singing duets with Russian pop star Philipp Kirkorov.

Here's a Kamaliya music and dance video:

Kamaliya - Butterflies (Fabinho DVJ & DJ Antoine vs. Mad Mark Remix) from Fabinho DVJ on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Ukraine's Muslim Billionaire Holds Balance of Power

Crimean Muslims Oppose Russian Take-over 

Pakistani Diaspora is World's 7th Largest

Putin Challenges US Exceptionalism

Syrian Crisis

Hui Muslims in China

Turkish Soaps in Pakistan

Muslims Demographics in West

Soviet Defeat in Afghanistan

US Dollar is Global Currency


Faisal said...

Very interesting. I have met in Moscow in the mid 90s. There is another Pakistani Russian Tariq Chaudhry

Haroon said...

Riaz sahib!!!!! I know Dr zahoor since last 20 Years and facts stated are not right. He does Good business based in London and his status is exagerated. He sold Helicopters to Pakistan in 2005 also. Dr Tariq is much bigger in Finacial and Political strength But Dr zahoor always Concentrate More on Self propogation.

Saeed said...

When I was working in pak steel 1975 - 1981 Zahoor too working. He never worked but after joining steel mills immediately transferred himself to Moscow due to his family connection

Riaz Haq said...

Trouble in Ukraine was started by US by orchestrating the removal of President Yanukovych seen as pro-Moscow by the West. There were leaked taped phone conversations of a US State Dept official and US Ambassador to Ukraine which showed US picking a replacement while Yanukovych was still in charge. Putin is reacting to it in ways that the West did not expect. The West badly miscalculated Putin's strong reaction in spite of earlier warning signs seen when Georgian President made provocative moves in Abkhazia in 2008.

Mayraj said...

"George Friedman, Founder and Chairman of Stratfor, or what is called by many "private/shadow CIA" for its well known connections and close cooperation with the CIA, gave a very interesting speech to the Chicago Council of Foreign Affairs on subject Europe: Destined for Conflict? in February of this year.
This speech came after another interesting interview where he admits that the overthrow of Yanukovych was "the most blatant coup in history" and among other things the American "payback" for Russian involvement in Syria. "

"I very much respect Friedman for his straight-talk and honesty on how the United States should maintain the role of global hegemon. In his speech he cut out all the nonsense and deceiving buzzwords like "spreading democracy and freedom", "promoting human rights" and also gibberish propaganda talk about "bad Russia", and "Putin, the bloodthirsty invader and dictator". He is the only honest spokesman of the Empire.
He recognizes that Russia has legitimate interest for its sphere of influence. However, he doesn't hide that US is trying to geopolitically defeat and humiliate Russia and limit its sphere of influence.
Even though I fundamentally disagree with him about genuine American national and geopolitical interest in decades to come, his realpolitik gives us unique insight. "

Stratfor Chairman Straight-Talking: US Policy Is Driven by Imperative to Stop Coalition between Germany and Russia
George Friedman, Founder and Chairman of Stratfor ("shadow CIA"), in a must watch video, openly declares that the primordial interest of the US over the centuries has been to to stop an alliance between Russia and Germany.

U.S. Begs Russia to Remain in ‘SWIFT’

An Influential Voice Slams U.S. Handling of New China-Led Infrastructure Bank

Going Along with the Donkey as Long as the Elephants are Worse

"4. The Rise of the National Security State as the Fourth Branch of Government
One “branch” of government is, however, visibly on the rise and rapidly gaining independence from just about any kind of oversight. Its ability to enact its wishes with almost no opposition in Washington is a striking feature of our moment. But while the symptoms of this process are regularly reported, the overall phenomenon -- the creation of a de facto fourth branch of government -- gets remarkably little attention. "

The New (Deplorable) American Order
1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of "We the People"

Riaz Haq said...

On September 19 next week, the Kyiv Post will complete 20 years of existence, 20 years in which this tenacious newsweekly with a print circulation of little more than 15,000 has consistently scrapped and punched above its weight.

This is in part because it publishes in English, making it the source of first resort for news on Ukraine for embassies in Kiev and chanceries around the world, as well as for any expat doing business in this country of simpatico citizens and venal officialdom.

The other element of its success has been its consistent, and cussed, independence. The paper tells it arrow-straight in a part of the world where much of the media twists the news to suit the interests of oligarch owners and corrupt politicians.

By contrast, the record shows that the Kyiv Post gets the story right most of the time; and apart from a few instances of turbulence between owner and editors, the quality of its journalism is not inferior to any reputable publication in the West. Staid it may be on occasion, but it’s never dodgy or unreliable.

* * *

I am in Koncha-Zaspa, a zippy 30-minute drive south of Kiev in a daredevil local journalist’s car. This is a wooded suburb of the capital, dotted with mansions of questionable taste, some grotesque.

By the standards of the zip code, Mohammad Zahoor’s pile is restrained, though it could hardly be called understated. The security is relaxed — one man at the gate who waves us through, another who ushers us to a parking spot; and as we descend from our car, a tall Pakistani man, about 6-foot-2, approaches us. It’s Zahoor, Ukraine’s richest expat, a “minigarch” worth about $1 billion (some say), and the owner of the Kyiv Post.

Zahoor is 60 years old, though his jet-black hair isn’t a day older than 30. His physique suggests regular trips to the gym. He is a virile chap, with two little toddlers to prove it. They’re twins — Arabella and Mirabella — his daughters with his wife Kamaliya, a bombshell blonde who was Mrs. World in 2008, and is today a singer of some repute not just in Ukraine but in those parts of Europe where the pop culture is unfussy.

We banter with Zahoor’s twins for a while before they’re whisked off by a posse of nannies (I count four). A housekeeper brings us chai made in the way of the Indian subcontinent, strong brick-red tea with lots of milk and sugar. After a few sips — the tea is hot, and we slurp noisily — Zahoor starts to reminisce. His speech is languid, his accent a mix of Pakistan and Britain. “You want to know my story?” he asks.

Men of steel

The owner of the Kyiv Post arrived in Moscow in 1974 on an engineering scholarship. He’d been at college in Karachi, and when he learned of his selection by the Soviet education ministry his parents were on a pilgrimage to Mecca, so he left without telling them. He was one of 42 students flown in from Pakistan: 14 stayed in Moscow, 14 went to St. Petersburg, and 14 unlucky ones — among them Zahoor — were put on a train to Donetsk, a shabby, polluted industrial backwater in then-eastern Soviet Ukraine. Showing early acumen, he changed $40 on the black market before embarking on the 32-hour journey. “I’m from Pakistan. I wouldn’t sell my dollars at the official rate!”

Zahoor studied engineering and steel-making at Donetsk, turning in a thesis on the rolling plant at the Donetsk Steel Mill in 1980. “Sixteen years later I bought that mill,” he says, with obvious — but not off-putting — satisfaction. He returned to Pakistan shortly after with a Russian wife, and worked for Pakistan Steel. “I was a safety engineer. We translated Russian safety manuals into English.”

Riaz Haq said...

Journalist Explains How Panama Papers Opened Up The World's Illicit Money Networks


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Before Donald Trump was elected president, some of his business partners on Trump-branded hotels and condos and the Miss Universe pageant were oligarchs from Russia and former Soviet bloc countries who kept a lot of their money hidden in the secret world of shell companies. Those business partnerships are the subject of the final chapter of my guest, Jake Bernstein's new book, "Secrecy World."


GROSS: Well - and as you point out in your book about the Panama Papers, it became hard - it became difficult for Donald Trump to get funding from U.S. banks because of his bankruptcies or near bankruptcies and because of all the money he spent in civil suits. So he looked to other places. And I guess Russia was one of those places. The oligarchs were among those people he turned to.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah. I mean, he absolutely, you know, hungered for that money. And he was doing business with people who were very much in that orbit, you know, people like Tevfik Arif who is - had a company called Bayrock and worked with Trump on the Trump SoHo, which Trump gave naming rights to and did other stuff for you. And Tevfik Arif is a guy who made - his family made their initial fortune the fall of the Soviet Union. They ended up with a bunch of chemical factories that had been privatized.

GROSS: So another investor in Trump SoHo through Bayrock was Alexander Mashkevich, a Ukrainian billionaire. Who's he?

BERNSTEIN: Alexander Mashkevich is - now sort of claims - even though he was on investor handouts for Trump SoHo, he claims that he never actually invested in it. So that's sort of an open question. But Mashkevich is part of a group of folks who are - do heavy - were heavy into mining in Africa and other places. There was quite a bit of controversy about their activities there. And they were sort of sketchy enough that even Mossack Fonseca had some red flags about their activities and had second thoughts about taking on companies from them. And Mashkevich, ironically, was on the same boat in Turkey with Tevfik Arif during this prostitution sting. Now, both men claim that it was not prostitution. They were just on this boat with a lot of young women. And it was completely, you know, above board, so to speak.


BERNSTEIN: So the company behind this was called Bayrock. And the person behind Bayrock was Tevfik Arif who is a - originally a Russian guy - Eastern bloc guy who comes to America and starts doing real estate deals. And he had extensive business with Trump. He had - his office is actually in Trump Tower, you know, right below Trump's office in Trump Tower at the very top of the building. And Tevfik Arif is a guy who has some questionable moments in his past, including he was ensnared in a prostitution sting in Turkey that ultimately goes nowhere because none of the young girls would testify. And Arif also received money from a shady Icelandic conglomerate with questionable revenue sources funneled through the secrecy world.