War Of Words: Plagiarism Row Roils French, Russian Pop Stars

A French musician and his Russian lawyer spent a night in a Moscow police station after a Russian pop star accused them of extorting 1 million euros from him in a plagiarism dispute.

Didier Marouani, a disco star who first toured the Soviet Union in 1983, and his lawyer, Igor Trunov, were detained Tuesday evening in a bank where they said they planned to sign an out-of-court settlement with Filipp Kirkorov, Russia’s biggest pop star.

Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP, file
GUM Department store in Red Square, Moscow, Russia.

Marouani, 63, claims one of Kirkorov’s songs, “Cruel Love,” contains music he wrote years before.

The musician and lawyer were released without charges early Wednesday.

The flashy Kirkorov, 49, who said in a recent interview that he has socialized with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump for decades, has been a household name in Russia since the early 1990s.

Wearing sunglasses in the middle of a freezing Moscow night, Kirkorov in televised remarks thanked police for “defending my honor and dignity that was called into question by foreign musicians who wrongly accused me of something I didn’t do.”

Kirkorov, speaking on Russian state television, said there was no agreement to settle the dispute out of court and that he turned to police because Marouani’s demand for a 1 million euro payment amounted to extortion.

Marouani, who was one of the rare Western musicians to perform in the Soviet Union before perestroika, dismissed Kirkorov’s accusations.

“I have been coming to Russia for 33 years,” he told Russian 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.”

Marouani said he plans to bring both a plagiarism lawsuit and a slander claim against Kirkorov.

Kirkorov, in turn, dismissed Marouani’s accusations of plagiarism. The song in question was written by a Russian composer years before Marouani first performed it, he said.

“I don’t want blood, I don’t want jailing,” he said, adding he does expect Marouani’s apology.