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German Zakharyaev: “I overcome obstacles and sadness in life over praying to God”

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Russian Real Estate mogul German Zakharyaev

3. German Zakharyaev


Russian mogul German Zakharyaev, is today still only 44, but has been well known as an active businessman since his early twenties. He is co-owner of several companies in the real estate industry, including the construction of projects such as the St. Nicholas Park Complex, LCD Rasskazovo, Pirogovskaya Riviera, Cezar group in Moscow, Russia.

This talented man is also Vice President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and president of the International Mountain Jewish Charity Fund “STMEGI”. Mountain Jews are the Jews who hail from the Caucasus region of Eurasia, which is the region he comes from himself. He also provides help to Jewish communities not only in Russia but also in other countries: for example Azerbaijan, Israel, and the United States.

He is in business to make the money to support his big family, and his interest in sport is for the soul. He understands the wheels of commerce in Russia, likes Israeli politics, science and culture, he manages a charitable foundation and gives to the Mountain Jews of Ashkenazi Torah Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and also supports the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

His generosity impressed me during our meeting.


“I overcome obstacles and sadness in life over praying to God.”

Chief Rabbi of Russia Adolf Shayevich about German Zakharyayev:

A fantastic, effective, and modest man of action who has helped many people. He created a foundation of STMEGI that is dedicated to preserving the historical and cultural heritage of mountain Jews, the publication of books and media. Many people came out with initiatives to create similar funds, but he is the only one who accomplished it. The Foundation also coordinates the work of the principal of Mountain Jewish organizations around the world and operates in the former Soviet Union and abroad, including the United States, Israel, China. German is actively helping the Russian, Azerbaijani, and Israeli communities.


Born on July 7, 1971, in Krasnaya Sloboda (Cuba City), in Azerbaijan, in the family of the famous journalist Rashbil Zakharyayev. He has been active in business since the early 1990s. Currently lives in Moscow. Known patron, Vice President of the World Congress of Mountain Jews, President of the International Mountain Jew Charity Fund “STMEGI.” German Zakharyaev provided financial support for the publication of an Azerbaijani translation of Sholem Aleichem.

German Zakharyaev even suggested adding a new holiday to the Jewish calendar. As a result, May 9th 1945 was added to the Jewish calendar as the year 26 Iyar 5705 (the Day of Salvation and Liberation). In many countries, May 9th is no longer celebrated, but we have to remember the day when Jews became free people.


Business and life philosophy

  •   Most of all in people I value sincerity, reliability and ability to acknowledge your own faults.
  •   I enjoy giving away rather than taking for myself.
  •   I earned my first money when I was seven years old, and my father had passed away. I remember     that bitter time very well, and that is why I strive to help other people as much as I can.
  •   I succeeded because people saw my eagerness and sincerity.
  •   I’m very critical of myself. I’m concerned that I still have not learned Hebrew.
  •   The most important for me is a family. I strive to be respected by my children.
  •  I overcome obstacles and sadness in life over praying to the God.


 Tell us about the Jewish traditions in your family.

Mountain Jews always have large and happy families, when one family is composed of all the brothers, sisters, nephews, all grow together, and this community and brotherhood is for the rest of your life. The infinite respect for elders, care, and love to the youngers – are the distinguishing features of Mountain Jews’ family.

Our family celebrates all the Jewish holidays and respects its traditions. We must not forget that my childhood took place in the years of the Soviet Union when the attitude to Judaism was specific. But in the place where I grew up, in Cuba, in Azerbaijan, there were several synagogues, and everyone came back safely, did not hesitate and did not hide their affiliation to Judaism.

  • How did you start the business?

My first ruble I gained when I was seven years old. In my village we used to live among Jews, and their relatives were scattered around the world – Israel, Austria, Canada, the United States. Many neighbors were getting a lot of foreign things, for example, jeans, shirts, suits. So speculators wanted to buy these things and paid us for being intermediaries. That’s how I earned my first money.

In 1983, my older brother, Solomon moved to Moscow and immediately began to help our big family. He also studied and worked from the first day. Thanks that we studied in Russian schools, and the teaching was conducted on a good level. Also, all our family is very hard working. When a couple of years after my brother and I came to Moscow, my main goal was to earn enough money to let my family live without a need. That was the only thing I was interested in. I was engaged in commerce; my specialization was wholesale trading. At first, I worked alone, and then I became the leader.

I even had enough time to study at the Distance Learning Institute. Later I even defended the thesis on a topic that is fascinating to me – “The evolution of the religious and theological concept of Hasidism.”

  •  Why have you chose the wholesale?

As I said, Krasnaya Sloboda, where I grew up, has always been a place where trade was in full swing. I guess that’s why I have chosen the wholesale trade and everything connected with it.

  • What were the difficulties along the way and how do you solve the problems?

My basic rule in business is honesty and responsibility. Therefore, one of the most unacceptable trait in people is the inability to take responsibility for their words. If I am faced with this attitude, then for me it is like a beacon, I cease to trust and start to treat them with an extreme caution. Once a man stumbles, then it is difficult to convince me that it was an accident.

Relationships in business often lead to disappointment on the part of partners and employees. For many years, it would be possible to get used to, but I could not. If I encounter fraud or deceptive behaviours, I find it easier to forget all about the existence of such a person, than try to get anything from him.

By the way, I noticed that it is a very advantageous position. I also find it difficult to part with people who work for me, so I rarely fire someone. Even after someone’s dismissal, I do not forget my employees, try to attach them to a different location, or after some time to recruit again.


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  • Were there moments of crisis, fear, worry, and thoughts of retreat?

I have never experienced fear or despair. I’m not afraid of anything, except for one thing – to screw the people who believe and trust in me.

As for the crisis … From this moment, no one is immune – large business management is always associated with ups and downs, crises and periods of bad as well as good.


  •  What are the lessons you have learned during the life of your business?

Everything I do, I do for the sake of two goals that are most important in my life. First is my family (in the broadest sense of the word) and its well-being, and the second is an ability to help people. With this purposes in 2001, I, along with my brothers, created the Charitable Fund STMEGI to preserve the legacy of the Mountain Jews. I am far from the illusion that our Foundation helps all the needy Mountain Jews, but we try to cover as much as possible people who are in need, and it rejoices me. If I have an opportunity to help someone, I will always do it, and it brings me great pleasure. Wouldn’t you agree, it’s much nicer to give than to receive?

In the 1990s, a small number of ten to twelve Mountain Jews worked under my supervision, it was the beginning of my help them. Even then I knew that if I did not, who would help them with work? I did it at the expense of my business, but with a firm belief in the correctness of my actions. I will never forget my childhood when it was not easy to survive for our family. That is why I try not to refuse anyone in help.

  • What you’ve learned about yourself as businessman, husband, father?

Many people think I am tough, but I’m not. I’m kind, just very demanding. The method of carrot and stick in the business is very close to me.

The children are pof course a crucial topic. Financially, I do not limit them, but they never take more than they need, they are not spoiled. Once, when my son Rudolf when he was six years old, he came back from a kindergarten, asked me for money, I gave and did not ask a single question. With the money he asked for he bought some sweets. And that day we went for a family birthday. Rudolph took the sweets with him, and sold them all to the children and earned five times more he spent. If tomorrow it happens that I can not support them, I’m sure they will not be wasted.


  • How do you manage the risk?

I have a great intuition about people, I feel in advance who can cheat, so I lay the higher risk in the future profits. So, if I am not confident in a partner, and I could still be in a win-win position. It came with the experience.



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