Avraam Russo, a Syrian Armenian who realizes fame in Russia

Avraam Russo, a Syrian Armenian who realizes fame in Russia


Azad-Hye, Dubai, 7 March 2006: In its 6th December 2001 issue, ?The Moscow Times? Russian leading English-language newspaper?s reporter Elvan Levent describes the new phenomenon of the Russian pop music with the following words: ?After 16 years of performing at clubs and restaurants in Britain, Syria, France and Cyprus, Avraam Russo is well on his way to becoming a confirmed pop star — in Russia. Russo, who speaks seven languages and can sing in 14, is a Syrian-born musician of Turkish descent. Now 31, he moved to Russia five years ago and is today on his way to the top of the local charts?.


In the following year (2002), Avraam Russo won a Russian national premium


award called ?Pesnya Goda? (the song of the year) for his famous hit ?Daleko Daleko? (Far away in Russian), originally taken from the Egyptian Arab famous singer Amr Diab?s song ?Tamalli Ma?ak? (2000).


What is the story behind Avraam Russo? Is he really of Turkish descent?


Quite the contrary. Russo?s real name is Apraham Ipjian (nicknamed Apo or Apig).


Born in 1969 in Aleppo, Apig comes from a very poor family. He had three brothers and lost his father in early age. His mother used to work in hard manual works, serving households in that northern city of Syria, where a community of 50 thousand Armenians live.  


As he discovered his singing talent, he was soon involved in several amateur bands, making part-time appearances in family style outdoor restaurants (such as Ramaya, Aleppo Family Swimming Pool, Somar, Ouroubeh, etc.) and in hotels (Al Amir) in Aleppo.


In 1993 he moves to Cyprus and works in a night club for two years earning no more than US$ 200 per month. However, his presence on the island of Aphrodite proves to be important for his future career.


During one of his visits to Cyprus a Russian Jewish tycoon Telman Ismailov (now Vice President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and owner of huge retail enterprises in Moscow and entertainment outlets such as Prague Restaurant), a well connected person with Russian politicians (including the Mayor of Moscow), attends one of his multi-lingual performances and upon noticing his talent, he immediately invites him to work in one of his prestigious outlets in Russia.


Ismailov, originally from Baku, Azerbaijan had been living (and thriving) in Moscow since the early 1990s.


After hesitating for one year, Apig eventually takes his advice. At that time he was back in Syria. His first trip to Moscow was in 1995. In a relatively short time he gets to be famous. With the help of a girlfriend he learns Russian and prepares a repertoire in many languages, exactly the way he used to do in Syria and Cyprus. His linguistic abilities helped him to overcome the language barrier. His command of European languages was also impressive. During his childhood, he used to live for some years in Europe, when his father was still alive.


There was always a kind of mystery about his origin. People made different speculations, judging on his knowledge of several languages. He himself had not explicitly referred to his ethnic background, maybe due to an informal agreement he made with his manager before receiving wide recognition. After all Russian fans might be fascinated with his songs and style and would not be interested to know about his origin. Armenians of Aleppo though insist in branding him as their fellow compatriot.

  1. Hagop Berberian May 12, 2006, 7:01 pm


    My name is Hagop Berberian. I live in Allepo. First I wanna say thanx for who wrote this.

    Avraam Russo or Apig is my uncle but am not boastful about this. You said Avraam has 3 brothers but it is not true. He has 2 brothers: Jano and Mosig and one sister my mother, Maral.

    I wanna just say Apig is Armenian. If someone dont believe this or if someone wanna know more about Avraam I can tell.

    This is my email: [email protected]

    By the way we Armenians should feel shame about him.

  2. Liza Karajian May 18, 2006, 4:22 am

    It is true Avram Russo is Armenian .

    He was my neighbour for ten years , when he was only a teenager, and I still see his mother from time to time.

    There is nothing shameful in being successful, some we need to sacrifice a lot to reach to the moon by all means.

    Now adays who cares if Charles Aznavoor is Armenian, we armenians and all the world still hear his french music and admire each step of his.

    Good job Apig you are genius; try to keep it that way and keep your little Armenia in your heart .

  3. Hagop Berberian May 18, 2006, 6:21 pm

    Hi Liza

    Apig was your neighbour, but he is not one of your family, so your cannot feel how I feel when my friends come and tell me your uncle is traitor and he has sold nationalism for money.

    You speak about Aznavour. Do you know what Aznavour has done for Armenia? You cannot compare Aznavour with Avraam.  


  4. Hagop Berberian July 9, 2006, 9:08 pm

    Someone even threatened me for my comments, but I'm free to speak my mind everywhere.

  5. I'm Egyptian guy and I'm really a big fan Of AMR DIAB. He is the greatest, the best and the most famous Arab singer…

    As Amr Diab's song is so good to anyone in the world, Avraam Russo took it and become one of the most famous singers in Russia…

    WOoOoOoOoOOooW  that is not the original song, So what will you say if you listen to the Original one “AMR DIAB” ????


  6. Dear friends;

    I met Avraam Russo with his wife in Russian Consulate. He is a modest person, who did not ask any special treatments for himself. I am a Russian-American,who never heard about him before and would not know, who he is, if not for a clerk.

    Does Avraam Russo has an e-mail address?

    Natalia Chapin

  7. I don't know Avram Russo at all but I know the musicians they us to play with him.

    I agree with Liza Karajian there is nothing shameful in being successful.
    & I think some of the peoples impression for Avram Russo is about getting jealous to his success.

    I know most of the Armenian people in Aleppo how they live. I was born there & I lived there for 28 years & I moved to US 3 years ago. We just keep talking about Turkey specially at the end of a wedding party and sing the Heghapokhagan songs, often we end the parties by fighting with each other. Why?

    The answer is so funny: because there was TASHNAG / HENCHAG issues going on, & both are Armenians. The most funny is that on the next day those people who were fighting turn their TVs to the Turkish channels and start watching it.

    My point is before judging Avram Russo we have to fix our bugs.

    As Armenian I feel very sad, bad & awful about the genocide happened on 1915, but keep in mind that we already are the winners not Turkey because we still exist
    but we have to move further. We have to think smarter and do plans.

    I'm proud of being Armenian we have really awesome history we have amazing culture, artists, musicians but if we sill talk about Armenian & Turkish story without planing & thinking smart I do not see how we can handle the situation and have a really amazing future. We will be walking on the same spot & we are never going to be the winners.

    Sorry if my post was little rude for you.  


  8. With full respect to you Nazareth but u r talking nonsense … It seems you do not know much about the Armenians. I lived 20 years in Syria and I never saw any fight between 2 Armenians because of Tashnag and hnchag…

    U r talking about Armenia and bla bla. Can you tell us why u moved to US and not to Armenia instead?

  9. Hello friends. I read a lot of things about Avraam. Actually I don?t want to believe in all.
    As a singer he is good, there are many singers who have almost the same voice but Avraam?s voice is unique. I am not saying it is the best, but wherever I go if there is a song performed by him it is impossible not to recognize it.
    Anyway, yes he had made a copy one of Amr Diab?s songs. I do not agree with what he has done, but he is not the first and not surely the last one to do so. So let us just be happy for Apig, because we Armenians should be proud of him without jealousy.
    He is one OF US. It is a fact. No need to blame someone coz he is lucky.
    Well, Filip Kirkorov as I am informed is half Armenian. When he went to Azerbaijan he said “I would be very happy if I could be one of you”. He is Armenian, but he doesn?t want to realize that, so why we listen to his songs?
    The Armenian Government didn?t allow him to come to Armenia after what he said in Azerbaijan, even if we lost a lot of money coz he had to give a concert in Yerevan.
    But Avraam never hid his nationality.
    So all I want to say, we should be proud of him without blaming him for the things he didn?t do.
    I love him as a singer and as a handsome Armenian guy :)
    A. Vardanyan
  10. I love Avraam Russo,

    I went to his concert in Almaty in 2002 I believe, and we had a chance to speak in New York (I used to work for the place where he visited a few times), dlya tex kto ne ponimaet angliiskii, v kakom raione goroda New York on zivet seichas, po slovam znakomix ego v New Yorke yzhe 2 goda net..kto znaet skin'te mne na email. Y menya fotografii dlya nego est :)


  11. Hi,

    Just wanted to ask if there's someone who'll know the answer. I have heard a song named “You Belong To Me” by Avraam Russo about 5 years ago in Northern Finland but I can't find it anymore, anywhere. I tried youtube and found one videoclip where he is singing the same song in Russian. But what is the name of the song? I'd like to buy Russo's CD particularly including this song in question.

    You'll find the clip from youtube.com filling the searchfield putting as an index-word “Avraam Russo in SF”, Avraam Russo in San Fransisco. The song I adore is the second song on the clip.

    I ask for help with this because I've been hungting that song for 5 years.

    Thank you beforehand!

  12. Hi. I'm Azeri. Armenians can produce only hilly-billy musicians as Russo, but in general they were always after pilfering our mugham: Declared as intangible heritage of the World by UNESCO.
    Comment by Azad-Hye:
    Russo of course does not represent Armenian music, he is an Armenian in ethnicity, but a famous Russion pop star.
    Saying that the Armenians “in general” were always after pilfering Azeri mugham, is a generality. No average Armenian knows what a mugham is. By reverting to the word Mugham in the Wikipedia we find the following paragraph:
    “Mugam belongs to the system of modal music and has close ties to the Persian musical tradition. It is therefore meta-ethnical, because it is not restricted to one particular region but covers a wide area of the Middle and Far East. The Uighurs in Xinjian (Sinkiang) call this musical development ?Muqam,? the Uzbeks and Tajiks call it ?Maqom? (also ?Shasmaqom?), while the Arabs, Persians call it ?Maqam”, or “Dastgah?. In Azerbaijan the word is Mugam. It is based on many different modes and tonal scales where different relations between notes and scales are envisaged and developed”.
    After reading the above paragraph (which may have been written also by an Azeri) we can say that mugham or maqam is not part of the Armenian musical tradition, but it seems that it is multi-ethnical tradition (without excluding that it may have a higher status in Azerbaijan).
    We respect the musical traditions of the Azeris. It is no harm if we enjoy their music (although in the Middle East we do not encounter such music). It is also quite natural if we create and propagate our own musical traditions, like any other nation in the world. We do not believe in musical or any other kind of superiority (or inferiority per se). Let us not be against each other just because we belong to different nationalities.
  13. I love Avraam. He is really cool person. I am a Turk but I love him even though I do not understand the words. We are in 2008 and you guys still talking about 1915!

    Note from Azad-Hye: The Armenian Genocide is part of the history of the Armenian people and it is mentioned in the right context whenever it is necessary to do so, especially for the purpose of learning lessons from history and avoiding to repeat the historical unjustice. Besides the Genocide, our history has so many other pages and we hope as a Turk you will be interested to know more about your geographical neighbors.

  14. Avraam Russo's father was born in Gaziantep, a big city in Turkey.

  15. I've just listened Avraam Russo on a Turkish live TV show program (Star TV). He said his father was from GAZIANTEP, a city in Turkey. He was speaking fluent Turkish. Especially the Turkish song he sang was so beautiful! I must admit I never listened that song so nicely from any other singer!

  16. Nanor Mikayelian October 20, 2008, 9:36 am

    No matter how tempting life gets, I would never give up my Armenian name for money or fame. Even worse, yesterday (19 October 2008) Mr. Apraham was happily singing in Turkish, in front of a Turkish audience, during a Turkish pop star show!! Why in the world would he do such a thing? I am so glad he removed the (ian) part from his name, because he doesn't deserve to be called Armenian.

    I wish I hadn't received the call telling me to switch to the Turkish STAR channel. It was shameful.


  17. I agree with you NANOR. I am happy that he changed his name and is without (ian) now. At first, I would like to say that Appig was from Aleppo and we were at the same school (Karen Yeppe Jemaran) and I think he did not graduate. It is not a shame of course if someone becomes a famous singer or artist in another country, but its very awful to deny your past and your nation as ARMENIAN. Wherever I go, wherever I live I am always proud that my heart is pumping Armenian blood inside my nerves and I am always proud with my history, my roots. By the way, it is wrong to compare Avraam with AZNAVOUR. They are two completely different classes.

  18. Nanor Mikayelian October 22, 2008, 6:06 am

    You are absolutely right Mr. Vanesian, it is ridiculous to compare Aznavour to Avraam, it?s like comparing  a candlelight to the moon? nobody has done what Aznavour did for the Armenian nation; People like him had their own reasons to give up the “ian”, especially that he belonged to a different era? plus every Aznavour-lover knows that he is Armenian and that he is proud of his origin?

  19. Kevork Hagop Gulvartian January 30, 2009, 9:03 am

    What a shame, when you find an armenian singer who was singing patriotic songs for Artsakh (Karabakh) in the early 90's, and nowadays you listen to him singing in Turkish language… what a pride for Armenians especially for Aleppo's Armenians… please stop spreading the fact that he was Armenian, simply he is announcing of his Turkish origins.. so if he is trying to give up of his origins why shoud we keep talking about his Armenian nationality, let him do whatever he wants he is no more an Armenian…

    And about the fact that his father was born in Antep or Gaziantep (in Turkish), as everybody knows that our grandfathers and ancestors lived in Western Armenia and Cilicia / Kilikya (modern day Turkey) in cities like Van, Gars (Kars), Garin (Erzerum), Zeytoun, Marash, Kilis, Adana, till the beginnings of the 20th century, when the Ottoman Turks commited the annihilation of the Armenian nation which is known as the 1st Genocide of the 20th century.

  20. Souren Jabal Mousa March 12, 2009, 6:32 am

    I am from Armenia, and in Armenia everybody knows that Russo is Armenian, he went on the TV, openly spoke of his roots, what you guys are saying is simply out of jealousy.

    So what that he sings in Turkish, didn't our ancestors sing in Turkish, spoke in Turkish? Until now most of Syrian Armenians speak fluent Turkish. So what, we were part of the Ottoman Turkey for years.

    If you listen to Turkish music, simply change the words with Armenian words and it will be another Armenian song.

    I live in Cyprus now, if you want to contact me to discuss you can write at: [email protected]

  21. Hello Everybody!

    People aren't you tired of all negativity in the world? Let go all the unnessary negative thoughts, rumors and feelings! Avraam Russo shares with his talent, so let's enjoy his music.

    Yes, I came to this web site because I was interested in his origin. Just a simple human curiosity. And now I am going back to youtube to continue listen his beautiful voice.

    Join me.

  22. salpi giragosian wolper June 5, 2009, 9:24 pm

    I know Avraam Rooso when he was just a little boy. We lived across street. I think you all should stop talking bad about a person. Armenians always been jealous of each other. You should be happy and all of you lazy bums out there get out and get a job.

  23. Ok. lets leave this alone. Can anyone tell me, where is Avraam Russo now and is he going to perform again?

  24. artsrun khangeldyan July 12, 2009, 4:09 am

    AS he gave an interview to an Armenian newspaper he said he lives now in NEW YORK with his family, and that he will never be back to Russiam where they wanted to kill him twice! He usually has concerts here in Armenia! But he didn't say that he will not sing any longer! You can wait for a future concert!

  25. artsrun khangeldyan July 12, 2009, 4:20 am

    Turks hang on threads wanting to make him Turkish, but they do not known that the city where his father was born is Armenian land of Western Armenia. extra history lessons are needed for them! We all know he is Armenian and for a singer it does not make any difference in what language he/she sings. Good song is good song! I never think he did something bad by singing any Turkish song or speaking Turkish! He is genious. He can do it and I like what he does! Let all others burst of envy!

  26. Does anybody know where Avraam used to work in Cyprus?

    I will go to Cyprus and I would like to see this place.


  27. Dear All

    I'm from Syria, I lived in Armenia from 1998 till 2005, and every year I'm going  there in my vacation. Now I live in Qatar from the time I graduated from the State Engineering University of Yerevan Polytechnic.

    All my life there in Armenia I was following Avraam Rousso songs. I was there when his song of Amr Diad ?daleko daloka? made the big impact. I liked Russian language and Russian songs because of him and he is my preferred singer and till now all his CD's are in my car and I listen his music every day.

    It is not what people want to say about him, he is, he is, he is….

    Whatever he is, it does not matter. Look at him now where he arrived and khalas

    I hope he is doing well and wish the best for him always.



  28. zdravstvuyte uvajaemiy avraam; eto vam pichet armine iz armenii katoraya jivyot v belgii.
    ya vacha bolchaya paklonnica mne ochen nravica vachi pesni i kak vi payote u vas ochen krasiviy golos.po skolku ya po nekotorim prichinam ne mogu viexat iz belgii po etomu ya vas ochen prachu priexat k nam i spet dlya nas.eto moya mechta.ya dumayu vse budut vam radi.esli vam ne trudno.vacha poklonnica armine.

  29. To Nazir, The name of the song you are looking for is Tamaly Maak. This is the Egyptian song by AMR DIAB. Avraam's version is called Daleko Daleko in Russian and known as Pretty my Pretty in English. You can find them on YouTube. Also, I suggest you look for the original song from AMR DIAB even though it is in Arabic…just to listen to the melody and a different style of music. Hope you read this as your post was 3 years ago…. Ciao, Janice

  30. Sirvart Saboundjian May 13, 2012, 8:07 am

    Հիմա լսեցի Ավրաամ Ռուսսոյի հարցազրոյցը իր թրքերէն կայքէջին վրայ. Ան, սահուն թրքերէնով,  շատ յստակօրէն կ'ըսէ, թէ ինք ԹՈՒՐՔ է: Վերլուծումը աւելորդ է:

  31. Come on .. Why we care much more about artist's ethnicity instead of the art. If he is from Turkey or he says he is a turk .. we know why.. Coz the Middle East is full of fanatic people . Otherwise people would care only about art… He sings good or bad and that's all…

Comments are closed.