French musician detained in Moscow in plagiarism row
Published 30/11/2016 | 09:41
A French musician and his lawyer have been detained in Moscow after a Russian pop star accused them of extorting a million euros (£850,000) from him in a plagiarism row.
Didier Marouani, a disco star who first toured the Soviet Union in 1983, and his Russian lawyer Igor Trunov were detained on Tuesday evening at a bank where they said they were to sign an out-of-court settlement with Philipp Kirkorov, Russia's biggest pop star.
Marouani claims one of Kirkorov's songs, Cruel Love, contains music he wrote years ago.
The flamboyant Kirkorov, who said in a recent interview that he has socialised with US President-elect Donald Trump for 22 years, has been a household name since the early 1990s.
He told the LifeNews website there was no agreement to settle the dispute out of court and he was "forced" to contact police after Marouani began to extort money from him.
"I'd like to thank Russian law-enforcement officials who were defending my honour and dignity that was called into question by foreign musicians who wrongly accused me of something I didn't do," said Kirkorov, who was wearing sunglasses in the middle of a Moscow night.
Marouani, 63, who was one of the rare Western musicians to perform in the Soviet Union before perestroika, denied the accusations.
"I have been coming to Russia for 33 years," he told local television after he was released. "And now I'm saying for the first time that my song was stolen, and music experts agree with me."
Another of Marouani's lawyers, Lyudmila Ayvar, said the singer and his lawyer were released early on Wednesday and are not facing any charges.
The police sting at a Moscow bank is reminiscent of the arrest of a Russian federal minister who was reportedly caught red-handed last month receiving a bribe he is said to have extorted from a major oil company.