Zarakh Iliev is a Russian businessman born in Azerbaijan and co-owner of the Kievskaya Ploshchad Group of Companies. The firm, founded in 1992, employs more than 25,000 people. In 2019, Iliev was 33rd on the Forbes list of the richest people in Russia. Illiev's wealth this year is estimated at $3.5 billion.
Childhood and Family
Zarakh Iliev was born on September 8, 1966 in the village of Krasnaya Sloboda, Azerbaijan, to Binsion and Sibo Iliev. He has seven siblings—five brothers and two sisters. His father was a shoemaker who taught Zarakh and his brothers his trade.
While living at home, he gained his first experience as an entrepreneur by sewing hats and selling them in the neighboring town of Quba.
At seventeen, he moved to Moscow, where he went into retail. In 1993, he started a business with his fellow countryman and friend, God Nisanov. Over the next few years, the partners successfully launched a number of projects in Moscow region. Today, Iliev and Nisanov focus on real-estate development, hotels, and restaurants. The pair of businessmen build important infrastructure for the city.
The group of companies co-owned by Iliev has completed many successful projects, including the following:
- The opening of the Elektronnyy Ray shopping center in 1998. It has become the most popular place to buy retail electronics in Moscow.
- In 2004, the company acquired TK Grand, which specializes in the sale of international and domestic furniture. The shopping complex is considered the largest of its type in Europe. It often hosts exhibitions, master classes, and lectures by specialists from around the world.
- In the same year, Kievskaya Ploshchad acquired the Moskva shopping center, making it Europe’s largest center for the sale of new and used cars. It has a permanent exhibition of retro cars.
- In 2005, it acquired Hotel Ukraina in an auction held by the Moscow government and completely rebuilt it over a span of five years. Today, this modern hotel operates under the Radisson Collection brand. It contains the largest collection of works by Soviet artists, with over 1,200 works decorating the halls and rooms of the hotel. Iliev and Nisanov used their personal funds to restore paintings by Deyneka, Lentulov, Nalbandyan, and many others.
- The new Evropeisky shopping center opened for business at the end of 2006. It was the first complex in the city with parking inside the building. A musical fountain with jets of water reaching a height of 22 meters was built for the occasion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
- In 2009, the Radisson Royal Fleet, owned by Illiev's company, made it possible to take a ride down the Moskva River during any time of year. Today, the fleet has 20 ships, of which ten are icebreaker yachts that allow for year-round tourist cruises around the city. Another ten of the boats operate from May to October. These boats are colorful "river buses" named after flowers. They have convertible telescopic roofs that can be pulled out or concealed in accordance with the weather. Iliev himself helped design the boats.
- In 2014, Food City, the first agricultural cluster in Russia, was opened. With an area of over 300,000 square meters, it is the largest food site in Russia, located in New Moscow on the Kaluzhskoe highway. In 2018, Kievskaya Square purchased the territory of the Left Bank shopping center, where it is planning to build Food City 2. The second cluster should free up space at the existing one and take on some of its customers.
Socially Important Objects
Currently, Kievskaya Ploshchad is working on a number of socially significant projects for Moscow. For example, the South Gate bus station opened in 2015. It provides over 200 routes daily to 30 different destinations. The Shchelkovo bus station has also been undergoing large-scale reconstruction since 2017. It will be a modern transportation center with an international bus station, a cafe, a shopping center, and other facilities. In 2019, work began on the Nagatinskaya transportation center.
Another—and no less important—project for the city was the Moskvarium Center for Oceanography and Marine Biology, which opened at VDNH in 2015. It is the largest landlocked center of its kind in Europe. Today, it contains more than 12,000 different fish and sea creatures.
Zarakh Iliev takes part in many charity projects. He helps out his hometown and works with a number of foundations such as Life Line, Give Life, Paper Crane, Land of Kindness, and others. He also helped in the construction of the Cheder Menachem Jewish school in Moscow in 2015, and he remains a patron of it. The entrepreneur supports other Jewish educational projects in the city, but also assisted in the decoration of the cathedral in Sofrino, donated to the Russian Military Historical Society for the creation of the Rzhev Memorial to the Soviet Soldier in the Tver oblast, and made donations to the Dynamo Sports Club for the development of physical education and sports in Russia. In 2019, Iliev and Nisanov sponsored the construction of a sports complex for the St. Petersburg State Marine Technical University. A ceremony was held there in June in which a time capsule was buried to mark the beginning of construction.
Iliev is married with two children. His hobbies include fishing and painting, and he has patented several of his own inventions. In 2015, he received the Fiddler on the Roof Award for charity from the Federation of Jewish Communities as well as a Merited Builder of the Russian Federation medal.