‘A Real Boss’

She Met Donald Trump at the Moscow Ritz (Not That Way!)

Yulia Alferova, asked to organize Trump’s Miss Universe contest in Russia, talks about meeting the future president—and why all the wild allegations are false.

Anna Nemtsova/The Daily Beast

The revolving door of the Ritz-Carlton hotel swished open and Yulia Alferova entered the luxurious lobby, used for important meetings both by the Russian elite and foreign guests. And there he was, Donald Trump, walking toward her in the morning light, the orange-haired American billionaire whose books she had read. She recalls “a lump of a man, powerful, huge, a real boss.”

In 2013, Trump’s longtime friends and interlocutors on business matters in Russia, the billionaire Aras Agalarov and his son Emin, the president and vice president of the Crocus Group real-estate company, asked the then-26-year-old Alferova, a quick-thinking Moscow entrepreneur, to help organize Trump’s Miss Universe contest. If three years ago Alferova’s job was to make sure that beautiful images of the event appeared on social media, today, as Trump is inaugurated as the next president of the United States, Alferova sees her mission as advocating for him.

“I am confident that nobody has any video of Trump with prostitutes, that he calculated every little detail coming to Moscow, knowing that our countries had serious tensions,” Alferova said.

But what if somebody spied on the future U.S. president, what if some sinister people filmed a compromising video of Trump with prostitutes in some hotel or backstage room? Alferova’s serious big eyes grew even bigger for a moment, but then she shook her head. “Then it would be the responsibility of Trump’s security, not ours,” she told The Daily Beast.

That day, Nov. 9, 2013, turned out to be a significantly eventful one both for Donald Trump and for Yulia Alferova. In the morning, the American mogul exercised his drama skills shooting a music video with Emin Agalarov, an American-educated singer. Agalarov was originally the one who came up with the idea of bringing Miss Universe and Trump to Russia.

“I posted a comment on Trump’s Twitter asking when he was coming to Moscow,” Alferova, an elegant brunette, recalled in an interview at a tower restaurant in the Moscow-City business district. “To Emin’s and my surprise, Trump retweeted my post and responded, ‘On November 9.’”

To prove it, Alferova pulled out a screenshot of Trump’s post. “See, he came on November 9, worked all day, partied all night, and left. I am not even sure if he spent the night at the Ritz,” Alferova insisted.

Trump had long been Alferova’s business idol. She read his books, his life story, and modeled herself after him, working in commercial real estate for Crocus Group, developing social-media pages for Russian governors and regional officials, organizing federal and regional events. That day in November, Trump teamed up with Alferova, as if they were old friends. “We talked as if we were equals, and I felt certain we were very much alike,” she said. Trump invited her to have lunch together—Alferova pulled up one more picture to demonstrate that there were just a few men and her waiting for lunch at the Crocus restaurant that day. When she mentioned she was interested in the real-estate business, Trump pulled out his business card and encouraged her to call him when she was in New York.

The dossier full of allegations discrediting Trump that was released earlier this month came as no surprise to Alferova. “His competitors dug in the dirt to come up with something against him, but Trump is a solid, huge figure who predicted and figured out everything in advance. He will just roll over all this misery, and next week nobody will remember this story,” she said of the dossier.

The U.S. intelligence community treated the dossier seriously enough to brief to President Obama on it. “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting, and assisting TRUMP for at least five years,” the dossier said.

The report alleged that the Russian secret services had collected compromising materials to blackmail the businessman, including claims Trump hired Russian sex workers to “perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him” in the Moscow Ritz-Carlton. The report alleged that Trump intended to “defile” the hotel room bed because it was in the same suite where President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had slept in 2009. The author of the dossier said Trump “hated” the Obamas.

Trump has denied the dossier’s allegations, tweeting soon after they were made public: “FAKE NEWS—A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

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With hours to go before America handed Trump the nuclear launch codes, famous Muscovites were still arguing over whether there really could be a blackmail “pee tape” hidden in some safe in the Lubyanka, the FSB headquarters.

“Trump stayed at the Ritz, but I don’t think he could stage the pee-pee show, and I definitely did not sleep with Trump at the Ritz,” journalist and socialite Ksenia Sokolova, long a regular at the Ritz-Carlton gym, told The Daily Beast. “There is no evidence that he did.”

Stanislav Belkovsky, a host at the independent Russian network Rain TV, disagreed. “Prostitutes around the city say the ‘golden shower’ orgy story is true,” he said.

To Alferova, the allegations make no sense. She cherishes her memories of the day she spent with Trump, making sure that the more than 80 Miss Universe contestants, as well as thousands of Western and Russian guests, felt safe and happy in Moscow. Trump posed with her for the cameras more times than with any beauty queen or celebrity, and one time he even hugged her in front of the cameras.

“But my husband was right there, you can see his ear in the picture,” Alferova said about her ex-husband. She was quick to defend the reputation of the new U.S. president. “I could see that Trump was careful about every single detail. He is one of these world leaders who analyzes all the steps in advance,” she said.

The same day, Trump gave an interview to CNN. One of the first questions was about pervasive anti-LGBT discrimination in Russia. “We didn’t really know this was such a controversy, perhaps we should have known, but we didn’t,” Trump said, contradicting Alferova’s belief about Trump knowing and calculating everything.