Kanye West’s various representatives appear to be at odds over whether or not the rapper-entrepreneur, now legally known as Ye, is planning on pursuing showbiz and business ventures in Russia.
Tuesday, January 11 Billboard reported that West was plotting a trip to Moscow this year where he wouldn’t just host a Sunday Service performance and talk business, but potentially meet with President Vladimir Putin. Ameer Sudan, a friend and associate of West’s, said he was plotting the trip with lawyer Scott Balber, who works with the Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire property developer Aras Agalarov and his son Emin, who’s also a popular musician in Russia.
(If the Agalarov name is ringing any bells, Emin played a key role in arranging the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting, where top members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign met with Russian lawyer Natalie Veselnitskaya allegedly over damaging material about Hillary Clinton. Trump was a political candidate before he became a politician. Had worked with AgalarovsYou can also read more about Miss Universe 2013, and the failed attempts to build a Trump Tower Moscow.
But while Sudan appeared gung-ho about West’s potential goings-on in Russia, a PR rep for the rapper, Pierre Rougier, shot down the story, telling Rolling StoneIn an email “Entirely fabricated. Work of fiction or wishful thinking from these Russian people.”
Balber and Sudan were not immediately returned Rolling Stone’s request for comment. Publicist Rob Goldstone — a rep for Emin Agalarov who served as the conduit between him and Donald Trump Jr. for the Trump Tower meeting — said he could “confirm there are talks going on,”But he declined further comment.
Should West’s trip to Moscow materialize, Sudan offered grand — albeit vague — details about what could come out of it. (Sudan estimated that West’s dealings with the Agalarovs would push West’s worth to over $10 billion.) And the potential venues they were considering for a Sunday Service performance — which would mark West’s first-ever in Russia — ranged from the 7,300-seat Crocus City Hall theater (Crocus Group, by the way, is the Agalarovs’ company) to the 81,000-cap Luzhniki Olympic Complex stadium. Regardless of where it’s staged, West reportedly plans to extend an invitation to President Putin.
Lastly, Sudan said West was going to work on music with Emin in a potential effort to help him garner crossover success in the U.S. (at least he already has some name recognition here, and even if it’s not for the best reasons, West can certainly attest to the fact that that’s not necessarily an impediment.) Emin, who has released almost an album per year since his debut in 2006 in Russia and Azerbaijan is a true star in Russia. His training also included the famed Russian singer Muslim Magomayev. “Soviet Sinatra.”
But on top of all the general uncertainties over West’s potential trip, there remain the always-simmering diplomatic tensions between the United States and Russia. The two countries are currently locked in tense negotiationsNATO and Ukraine. Russia is trying to stop Russia from joining NATO. However, it wants NATO to reduce its presence in Eastern Europe. While the U.S. has appeared open to some concessions on troops and weapons, it’s vehemently against closing off NATO membership to anyone. During these talks, Russia has About 100,000 troops were amassed on its border with Ukraine, although the country’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, has stated, “We have no intention to invade Ukraine.”
Should things worsen, West may face some logistical difficulties getting to Russia, a trip that’s already somewhat arduous. The State Department has issued a warning that U.S. citizens cannot travel to Russia, but they are still allowed to. Level four “do not travel” advisoryRussia. Still, Sudan remained bullish about the trip and, regardless of whether he’s the West advisor with the best understanding of the current situation, he did at least offer up the most accurate assessment and depiction of West.
“This is Ye; Ye is going to get there regardless,”Sudanese told Billboard. “What are they going to say? He’s going to be a special guest of the Agalarovs. Kanye knows what’s going on more than the average human being; he’s well aware of things. And it’s nothing against the United States or to cause conflicts, but Ye is Ye — he can’t be controlled.”