Anastasiia Ragimova: I know what to be independent means
Especially for Business ML, business Lady Anastasiia Ragimova told us how she, like millions of Ukrainians, had to become a forced refugee, what the morning of February 24 was like for her personally, and shared her thoughts about happiness and independence.
Who were you before February 24th?
First of all, I would like to say that both before and after February 24, I was and remain a patriot of my country. I lived in Kyiv, was engaged in journalism, and owned a small media holding. We published magazines “People IN” and “People IN Woman” in which we told the stories of successful people, inspiring our readers with them. We have formed an interesting bright team and I am now considering the continuation of this project. Most likely it will be called People IN Europe. We will talk about people who were forced by the war to leave Ukraine and go to Europe.
In addition, I led several projects related to real estate. My partner and I brought to the market a new generation residential complex – the “7 Avenue” co-living. We prepared an interesting media project, which, alas, was never launched – the YouTube blog “Move real estate” about the real estate market in Ukraine and abroad.
Here in Baku they talk about you, among other things, as a gallery owner.
I really headed the gallery in St. Andrew’s Church in the center of Kyiv. This charity project was called “Ukraine is”. As part of the project, works by Ukrainian artists were exhibited. We managed to hold personal exhibitions of Nikolai Zhuravl and Petr Antipa, an exhibition of Anatoly Krivolap was being prepared, the artist whose work was successfully sold at the Phillips auction. These are all artists of world renown. We used the money from the sale of paintings to develop young talents.
The gallery owner is a very narrow profile specialty. Did you study it?
I have always dreamed of doing cultural projects on a national level, and when I got the opportunity to lead the gallery as an art director, I was incredibly happy and received a specialized education in an emergency mode. I received an art producer degree from the Business Art Academy, where my teachers were the best European and American teachers, many of whom had practical experience in this field.
This is your last, but not the only education. Where did you study?
At the age of 24, I defended my Ph.D. thesis in political sciences in the legendary red building of Shevchenko University in Kyiv. My second education is economics. And the third one is public administration at the Institute of Public Administration in the famous Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.
You are a political scientist. Do you think a future without wars is possible?
Unlikely. As long as human vices are alive, there will be wars.
How did this war start for you?
I was completely unprepared for what happened. While my friends were rapidly leaving Kyiv, I sat at home, played the piano and waited for everything to be over soon. And then one night, on the eve of March 8, I woke up from the sound of a strong explosion, frightened children ran into my room. I took things (which I could) from home, drove to pick up my parents, and we drove by car to the west of Ukraine. Everything was difficult there. Day behind the wheel, the children are hungry, there is nowhere to settle. Unexpectedly, my publicity helped me. The mayor of the city where we arrived placed us with his relatives. I spent about a month in Western Ukraine and the question arose of where to move on.
Did you think of returning?
I’m not a coward! I was very drawn to return to Kyiv, but every time I was going on the road, there were some explosions, provocations, and the last thing I wanted to do was endanger my children. On the other hand, it is not in my rules to live with an outstretched hand, and the status of a refugee categorically did not suit me. And then something happened that I call the pass of the universe. I have confidence that in any difficult situation, the universe lends a helping hand, you just need to be careful and not miss the signal.
I got a call from a familiar journalist from Azerbaijan. In the conversation, I mentioned that I was looking for a job. I thought about working on a TV channel, as I already had experience in television journalism. She said: “Come to Baku, let’s try!” Several days of an exhausting road, children ill from stress, immediate return to work upon arrival… It was a very difficult path, an incredible adaptation in its complexity, but… What the eyes fear, the hands do! Now I am the host of CBC TV Azerbaijan. I am very grateful to Azerbaijan, the land that accepted me and gave me the opportunity not only to live, but also to do what I love.
How do you cope alone with two small children in an unfamiliar city? You are a working mom, right?
Being a mother is the most difficult and responsible profession on Earth. No money is paid for this work, this is a long-term investment. I am often asked how I manage to combine motherhood with a career. I never hid the fact that from the very birth of the children I had an assistant, a babysitter, my working hands. I don’t see anything wrong with that. As for everyday life, cleanliness, care, proper nutrition – this is a babysitter. And mother is love and education. This is about who you want to see your children in the future, what fairy tales you read to them, what you put into them, what guidelines you give them in life. I’ve made a good habit of turning off my phone when I’m with the kids. Whatever happens, let the world wait.
What are your priorities in raising children?
I come from a professorial family. All my childhood was strictly regulated: study, piano, choreography, foreign languages, etc. I was brought up, in a good sense of the word, in a puritanical style. Probably, as a mother, I am more liberal. I have two children, a boy and a girl, and I bring them up in completely different ways, based on the character and characteristics of each. The main thing, it seems to me, is to discover and give an opportunity to develop individuality, talent. If a child writes poetry, is it so important that they have difficulty in mathematics? And, of course, teach them to be strong and independent.
What does independence mean to you? What is its price?
Independence for me is, first of all, self-respect and inner core. It’s about being able to choose: communicate only with those with whom you want, do only what you love, make decisions on your own. I was taught to compare myself only with the best, to rely on myself and fight. From the age of 18, in addition to my studies, I worked as a translator, at 19 I had an internship in the Verkhovna Rada, the highest legislative body of Ukraine, in the Committee on Justice. I bought my first car for myself, from a car dealership – even though no one really believed in it then. I did not make allowances for being a woman, I did not count on the fact that someone would support me. I have always been result oriented. If I lost something, I didn’t blame anyone, I just worked even harder. When a person sincerely believes in their goal, everything will come to them. If we talk about the price, then it is always “blood, sweat and tears.” This is a high price. Whether it concerns an individual or an entire country. The answer is unequivocal – it is necessary to fight for independence.
If we talk about struggles… Are there any red lines for you that you cannot cross?
Of course. The red line is what Russia is doing now in relation to my home country. The blood of innocent people, death and destruction. To solve political problems there is diplomacy. As the Soviet diplomat Andrei Gromyko said: “10 years of negotiations are better than 1 day of war.”
In human relations, for me, the red line is betrayal. Whether this is about personal life or leaking private information, it is difficult for me, and sometimes it seems even impossible to forgive.
You are an active person who seems to be living several lives at the same time. How do you rest?
Until recently, I didn’t have much free time. After certain events, I drew conclusions and established certain rules. Now I have days that I devote exclusively to myself. I can do it even in the middle of the week! I can read books by my favorite authors, walk along the Boulevard in the evening. We always choose something, but rarely choose ourselves. I feel especially strongly now that this is wrong.
Who are your friends?
First of all, these are people close to me in spirit, sincere, creative and purposeful. Many of them are media persons, but this is not the main thing, as the circumstances have developed. During the war, I became even more convinced of how important it is to have someone around you who you can rely on.
Do you have Russian friends? How did the war affect your relationship?
As I said, my friends are people close to me in spirit. All my friends, including Russians, support Ukraine and I have not had any conflicts about this.
Before the war, you had a project “Nastya about Happiness”, where you read poetry. What is it, Nastya’s happiness?
This project was my outlet. After all, happiness is the tuning fork of the soul. The war showed me how important it is to appreciate the moment here and now; to understand that right now is that special unique moment; not to wait for a special day to put on a beautiful dress, or a round date to set the table beautifully… When I fled from Ukraine, I had one suitcase. It turned out that branded bags, expensive shoes, jewelry — none of this, by and large, is needed. All the most important things can fit in your hand – the palms of children, the keys to your home. The love and warmth of loved ones is the most valuable thing that can be, the rest can be earned. Life is one, and it is today, not tomorrow, that special day that must be celebrated.
What would you like to say to all Ukrainians on Independence Day?
There is such a joke that independence is when nothing depends on us. So I want to wish all Ukrainians that everything is always in our hands, the ball is on our side and our future depends only on us. Trials are our point of growth. Only forward, because the truth is with us, God is with us. And God will manage everything, I know from my own experience. I will say again: “God is in control” – I believe in it, I know…