This year, Premiere magazine celebrates its fifth anniversary. We decided to mark the occasion with a rare and frank interview with its founder and owner, Lina Teroganova. Journalist Yulia Vertova and blogger, stylist and presenter Archie asked their questions to the ‘birthday girl’.
Julia: In childhood, we are often asked: what do you want to become when you grow up? Did you ever think that you would have your own magazine?
Considering that I studied astrophysics, I wanted to be an astronaut, no less! But over time, I apparently realised that not only has space not been studied in our country but also people, and human relations are like many parallel universes in which superstars, and space debris, and black holes, and unknown galaxies meet. I think I have accumulated so much knowledge, impressions from my travels and general life experience that it was logical to start either writing a book or sharing it all through a magazine, through cycles of creative meetings in Cyprus with famous people whom I knew personally and who gladly accepted my invitation and come to our island, gather in full rooms, informally communicate with guests and enrich each of us with their energy and wisdom.
Archie: I’ve known you for over two years now, and you were one of the first people I met here. I am sincerely proud to have met you and what you do, and I am grateful to you taking the decision to answer my questions as Premiere celebrates its fifth birthday.
Over the years, you have interviewed dozens, if not hundreds, of people but you have never given them yourself. Why? And who is behind Premiere magazine?
Thank you, I really appreciate the opportunity to cooperate with you, Archie. We have already carried out several joint projects, and I want to note that you, like no one else, see the beauty of a woman and a man at any age, image or mood.
As for who is behind the magazine… believe it or not, it is me and my amazing team of editors, photographers, and journalists. And my family and friends, of course. The truth is that I have never been a supporter of self-promotion. It is much more comfortable for me to be behind the scenes of all the processes in which we are involved. But five years after the publishing house was founded, it’s time to tell readers what my team and I have achieved over the years.
Julia: Then let’s start with achievements! The name ‘Premiere’ carries a lot of weight: is the bar set too high? What have you achieved? Do you regret that you ended up in this business?
Not only do I not regret it, on the contrary – I am only grateful for the circumstances and people who, directly or indirectly, pushed me to create the magazine. I wish these people success and prosperity. And I myself do not stop there.
Three years after the first issue of Premiere came out, we started publishing a business version of the magazine called Premiere Business, and then we opened a concert agency and successfully held a series of events with many Russian stars. Vladimir Pozner, Renata Litvinova, Irina Khakamada, Leonid Parfenov, the projects “Rock and Opera” and “Russian Ballet Seasons” with the participation of the stars of the Bolshoi Theater – the list is far from complete.
This year we launched a full-fledged news portal – www.premiere.media – which is visited by about 200,000 people monthly.
Julia: How long have you been in Cyprus? Do you have a large social circle? And what has life on the island taught you?
I have been living on the island for eight years. Having moved to Cyprus, I just changed gear and began to live a completely different life than in Moscow. Here I immediately had to start communicating with a huge number of people, for which I was not ready… and quite often got discouraged.
Probably, life here taught me not to open my soul to everyone who calls you a friend. And this can be understood only after going through some moments in life with a person, although many are revealed quite quickly in banal situations.
But time puts everything in its place, and each betrayal is a new lesson. At the same time, I can say that I have met a lot of good people, whom without their support would’ve been difficult to achieve anything, and I am very grateful to them for that. Now I have a small social circle, but this is the backbone of people with whom I feel comfortable – I am real with them, and I hope they are with me too.
Archie: How often do you come across dishonest business in Cyprus?
Dishonest business is everywhere but, in Cyprus, due to imperfect laws and the relaxed nature of society, the phenomenon is seen on a massive scale.
Very often I face unscrupulous competition. Since the release of the first issue of the magazine, I have realised that many, instead of spending energy on their own development, are engaged in putting a spoke in the wheels of those who are better than them. As an example, I will cite a case when the management of one print media company over the course of several years personally took our magazines out of various events so that they would not fall into the hands of readers, and the posters of the artists we brought over were torn down across Cyprus under the cover of darkness. I’m not even talking about the constant slander in all instances – these are the realities of Cypriot business.
But life goes on, and the strongest and most worthy will survive.
Archie: There are stars on the cover of every Premiere issue and an exclusive interview in the magazine itself. How do you manage to get the consent of these artists while in Cyprus? How often do you communicate with them personally?
We really publish exclusive interviews of Russian and foreign stars from issue to issue, and this is our main ‘trick’. With my connections in the Russian art scene, it is not difficult for me to organise any conversation. Most of the interviews were conducted by me or my editors or journalists in person, or online. It is an incredibly exhilarating experience and they create memories of a lifetime.
Julia: For an interview to work, you need not only to establish contact with your counterpart, but also to create a trusting atmosphere. Does the guest’s star status ever hinder this? Which celebrities do you remember the most about?
To be honest, I have never had problems with creating a trusting atmosphere, because the guests of the magazine are, first of all, ordinary people, like you and me.
I recall with warmth and sadness the interview with Vera Glagoleva, who is no longer with us. We talked with her after the premiere of her latest film, Two Women, where Ralph Fiennes starred in one of the main roles. Even then, she felt bad, but she still accepted my invitation to answer questions for our magazine.
I talked with artists such as Dmitry Dyuzhev, Ivan Okhlobystin, Ksenia Rappoport and many others. We organised creative evenings in Limassol with the likes of Vladimir Pozner, Irina Khakamada, Leonid Parfenov and Renata Litvinova. By the way, it was with Vladimir Vladimirovich that I had the most exciting interview in my life, even when I have previously communicated with the president of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiades, and with politicians, both Russian and Cypriot, and with many other famous personalities. Many of them have a Premiere magazine at home.
But, perhaps, most of all I remember Renata Litvinova. We spent several days with Renata, and our entire team had unforgettable impressions of this great actress. She is incredibly touching, feminine, very artistic and at the same time extremely pleasant for a star of her level.
Archie: Can anyone be on the pages or on the cover of your magazines? Were there cases when you were offered money, but you refused?
In fact, quite often it happens that you are asked to put your wife on the cover or print an interview in a magazine as a gift for your beloved woman or yourself. But if I understand that a candidate for an interview does not pass the criterion of ‘interestingness’ for the reader, I have to refuse. As for the cover, it is not sold at a price – this is the principle of the magazine, and we comply with it.
Julia: In recent years, Cyprus has become a platform for a huge number of events aimed at, among other things, the Russian-speaking audience – social events, concerts, gala dinners and creative evenings. Now that Premiere Media Group has become one of the largest cultural event organisers at this level, how do you rate their success?
This is a very good question. On the one hand, worthy companies have appeared in Cyprus, such as Russian Evenings in Cyprus, which organised large-scale concerts of Leningrad, Time Machine, Scorpions and many others. We know that creating an event of this level of stardom is a huge risk, which the organiser assumes first of all, and the rest depends on the audience, audience preferences and even the weather!
On the other hand, there are companies that bring in frankly second-rate productions, creating a distorted taste in the audience. What is especially sad – not only for the Russian-speaking viewer, but also for the Cypriot one, who unknowingly perceives this as the pinnacle of Russian classical art.
I think such events are culturally harmful – especially for children, who should be brought up with the best classical productions. And many people, including Cypriots, are unhappy with the quality of what they saw on stage. It was this negative experience that pushed us to create the ‘Russian Ballet Seasons’ project, which premiered in November last year and had incredible success. We presented the audience in Cyprus with a programme of the best ballet performances in the world: Swan Lake, Scheherazade, Don Quixote, La Bayadère, Sylphide and Sleeping Beauty performed by soloists of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatres, as well as the Moscow State Academic children’s musical theatre, N. Sats.
As for secular events, I must admit that there is something to work on in this area. Except, perhaps, for one event – the annual Cypriot-Russian gala dinner at the Presidential Palace, which has been gathering the entire secular audience of Cyprus, Great Britain, Russia and other countries for 14 years. Unfortunately, this year the event was held online, but I hope that next year it will be held in the usual format. Premiere is the main media sponsor of the evening – we have been taking an active part in organising it for many years, and our magazines are always presented to guests.
Archie: I know that last year the first lady of Cyprus, Andri Anastasiades, presented you with a certificate of honour. Was it expected or was it a surprise?
This was completely unexpected for me. The diploma was for my personal contribution to the life of the Russian-Cypriot business community, signed by the first lady. To say that I am filled with pride would be an understatement.
Julia: What is your greatest achievement in life?
That would be my 17-year-old son – my pride and joy.
Archie: How difficult is it to get along with him?
This is a completely different generation, living by its own laws. They have a different mentality and outlook on life. They are free, open and direct, which is also something we could learn from them. It’s easy for me with them – maybe because I am an Aquarius and easily establish contact with everyone, I do not feel any barriers in communicating with young people. I am on the same wavelength with my son, and we do not feel any kind of generational conflict.
Julia: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself 20 years ago? And what would you wish for 20 years into the future?
To myself from the past, I would, firstly, say that you need to be grateful to fate at any given chance and use it, because there may not be a second chance. Secondly, that you should not trust everyone who you meet on your life path. And thirdly, you need to appreciate every minute, live here and now, love and take care of those who around you.
As for the future, I’m unlikely to change dramatically in 20 years. In my entire life, I have never been hypocritical nor put up with injustice, and my ability to get into curious situations and create obstacles of my own so as to overcome them later, I think, will not go anywhere in two decades.
Julia: Who do you dream of interviewing and what would you wish yourself and Premiere readers of the anniversary issue?
Julia, how many unreached presidents, prime ministers, other politicians, cultural and art workers and just good and interesting people are missing from our magazine?
I want to wish all readers and myself, above all, good health, patience and love. And for each issue of Premiere and Premiere Business to provide something interesting, to be inspired by our stories and look into the future with optimism and a good mood.