Friday, September 21, 2007

Alisher Usmanov

Craig Murray's web site host pulled his blog because of the following post (via Lenin, see also):

Alisher Usmanov, potential Arsenal chairman, is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker and Accused Rapist

I thought I should make my views on Alisher Usmanov quite plain to you. You are unlikely to see much plain talking on Usmanov elsewhere in the media becuase he has already used his billions and his lawyers in a pre-emptive strike. They have written to all major UK newspapers, including the latter:

“Mr Usmanov was imprisoned for various offences under the old Soviet regime. We wish to make it clear our client did not commit any of the offences with which he was charged. He was fully pardoned after President Mikhail Gorbachev took office. All references to these matters have now been expunged from police records . . . Mr Usmanov does not have any criminal record.”

Let me make it quite clear that Alisher Usmanov is a criminal. He was in no sense a political prisoner, but a gangster and racketeer who rightly did six years in jail. The lawyers cunningly evoke "Gorbachev", a name respected in the West, to make us think that justice prevailed. That is completely untrue.

Usmanov's pardon was nothing to do with Gorbachev. It was achieved through the growing autonomy of another thug, President Karimov, at first President of the Uzbek Soviet Socilist Republic and from 1991 President of Uzbekistan. Karimov ordered the "Pardon" because of his alliance with Usmanov's mentor, Uzbek mafia boss and major international heroin overlord Gafur Rakimov. Far from being on Gorbachev's side, Karimov was one of the Politburo hardliners who had Gorbachev arrested in the attempted coup that was thwarted by Yeltsin standing on the tanks outside the White House.

Usmanov is just a criminal whose gangster connections with one of the World's most corrupt regimes got him out of jail. He then plunged into the "privatisation" process at a time when gangster muscle was used to secure physical control of assets, and the alliance between the Russian Mafia and Russian security services was being formed.

Usmanov has two key alliances. he is very close indeed to President Karimov, and especially to his daughter Gulnara. It was Usmanov who engineered the 2005 diplomatic reversal in which the United States was kicked out of its airbase in Uzbekistan and Gazprom took over the country's natural gas assets. Usmanov, as chairman of Gazprom Investholdings paid a bribe of $88 million to Gulnara Karimova to secure this. This is set out on page 366 of Murder in Samarkand.

Alisher Usmanov had risen to chair of Gazprom Investholdings because of his close personal friendship with Putin, He had accessed Putin through Putin's long time secretary and now chef de cabinet, Piotr Jastrzebski. Usmanov and Jastrzebski were roommates at college. Gazprominvestholdings is the group that handles Gazproms interests outside Russia, Usmanov's role is, in effect, to handle Gazprom's bribery and sleaze on the international arena, and the use of gas supply cuts as a threat to uncooperative satellite states.

Gazprom has also been the tool which Putin has used to attack internal democracy and close down the independent media in Russia. Gazprom has bought out - with the owners having no choice - the only independent national TV station and numerous rgional TV stations, several radio stations and two formerly independent national newspapers. These have been changed into slavish adulation of Putin. Usmanov helped accomplish this through Gazprom. The major financial newspaper, Kommersant, he bought personally. He immediately replaced the editor-in-chief with a pro-Putin hack, and three months later the long-serving campaigning defence correspondent, Ivan Safronov, mysteriously fell to his death from a window.

All this, both on Gazprom and the journalist's death, is set out in great detail here:

Usmanov is also dogged by the widespread belief in Uzbekistan that he was guilty of a particularly atrocious rape, which was covered up and the victim and others in the know disappeared. The sad thing is that this is not particularly remarkable. Rape by the powerful is an everyday hazard in Uzbekistan, again as outlined in Murder in Samarkand page 120. If anyone has more detail on the specific case involving Usmanov please add a comment.

I reported back in 2002 or 2003 in an Ambassadorial top secret telegram to the Foreign Office that Usmanov was the most likely favoured successor of President Karimov as totalitarian leader of Uzbekistan. I also outlined the Gazprom deal (before it happened) and the present by Usmanov to Putin (though in Jastrzebski's name) of half of Mapobank, a Russian commercial bank owned by Usmanov. I will never forget the priceless reply from our Embassy in Moscow. They said that they had never even heard of Alisher Usmanov, and that Jastrzebski was a jolly nice friend of the Ambassador who would never do anything crooked.

Sadly, I expect the football authorities will be as purblind. Football now is about nothing but money, and even Arsenal supporters - as tight-knit and homespun a football community as any - can be heard saying they don't care where the money comes from as long as they can compete with Chelsea.

I fear that is very wrong. Letting as diseased a figure as Alisher Usmanov into your club can only do harm in the long term.

1 comment:

  1. A really scary proposition--over at Football Is Fixed, they wrote a while back:

    "The average betting turnover is even greater when one just restricts the Sky live games to the ones involving the Big 4 (reaching over £150 million). A market manipulator would wish to gain as much control of the outcome of the Big 4's games as is possible and this is the first reason behind the lack of Arsenal games on the Sky platform. As we have posted previously and recurrently, Arsenal are unfairly targeted overall for their refusal to bow down and give homage to the betting markets. While all the other top teams (and some not-so-top ones too) have been allowing their infrastructures to be warped to the requirements of major league professional gambling operations, Arsenal have stayed true to their roots of being a club for the fans. Arsenal play to win but not on the betting markets. This totally pisses off the major bookmakers as they are liable to develop imbalanced books whenever Arsenal games are shown on Sky. Obviously, in the eyes of Murdoch's manipulators, there is a simple psychopathic solution - only show Arsenal games that are highly unlikely to produce imbalanced books."

    And there's more on that blog, lately, on Usmanov specifically.

    From Wikipedia:

    "Arsenal's parent company, Arsenal Holdings plc, operates as a non-quoted public limited company. Arsenal's ownership is considerably different from that of other football clubs. Only 62,219 shares in Arsenal have been issued, and they are not traded on a public exchange such as the FTSE or AIM; instead, they are traded infrequently on PLUS, a specialist market. As of September 24, 2007, Arsenal's market capitalisation value is £622.2m,[35] and the club made an operating profit of £51.2m in the year ending May 31, 2007, from a turnover of £200.8m.[36] As of March 2007, business magazine Forbes ranks Arsenal as third most valuable team in the world, after Manchester United and Real Madrid, valuing the club at £495m.[37] Accountants Deloitte rate Arsenal as ninth in the 2007 Deloitte Football Money League, a ranking of the world's football clubs in terms of revenue, with the club earning £133m in the 2005–06 season.[38]

    Arsenal's board of directors hold 45% of the club's shares; the largest shareholders on the board are Danny Fiszman (a London diamond dealer) and Nina Bracewell-Smith (wife of the grandson of former chairman Sir Bracewell Smith), who hold 24.1%[39] and 15.9% respectively. Fellow director Richard Carr has 4.4% and club chairman Peter Hill-Wood owns less than 1%.[40]

    In recent years, with other major English clubs such as Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United all having been taken over by foreign investors, Arsenal have been identified as a target for a buyout. The American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke currently owns or controls 7,007 shares or 12.19% of the club,[41] the bulk of which he bought from Granada Ventures (a subsidiary of ITV plc) in April 2007.[42] The largest single stake in the club held by a non-board member is the 21% owned by the firm Red & White Holdings, which is co-owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and London-based financier Farhad Moshiri. An initial 14.6% was bought in August 2007 from former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, who is now chairman of Red & White Holdings,[43] and was upped to 21% the following month.[44] Both purchases have led to press speculation of an imminent takeover bid for the club,[42][43] although Arsenal's board of directors have agreed not to consider a sale until at least April 2008.[45]"

    All this, and they're playing red hot football to boot--the most attractive team in England (as usual), and currently also the best-performing (all wins and one draw so far this season, at least three goals in each of their last five games). The more successful a brand they present, the more outside investors will want to gut the club, make it like Chelsea.

    Sorry to take up so much space here.