Usmanov-watch: Charm offensive by a charmless man.
Alisher Usmanov, no doubt paying not just for the services of Schillings, his legion of lackeying legal freedom of speech suppressing cunts, but also for the work of one of the most expensive PR firms, decided to take just this approach. It seems that a representative from almost all of the broadsheets' sports teams (Times) (Telegraph) (Guardian) (FT) was requested, and subsequently flown by private jet to see Usmanov in Moscow in the offices of his metals company. No expense was presumably spared, and inevitably none of the journalists who subsequently filed a piece so much as dared to question him further about Craig Murray's initial allegations, accepting his responses at face value.
Usmanov for example claims that he has next to no real links with Uzbekistan:
"I don't live in Uzbekistan. I am not even a citizen of Uzbekistan. I only visit the graves of my parents once a year."
Quite understandably, he doesn't mention his very real friendship with Islom Karimov, the current Uzbek dictator, or indeed that Gazprom, for whom Usmanov is the Gazprom Investholdings chairman, has control of the Uzbek natural gas reserves.
"Life is a sequence of events we cannot always control. Sometimes we are helpless against the circumstances life presents. Most obviously it manifested in the system we all lived under when the country was ruled by the Communist party."
As, after all, things are far different in Uzbekistan now than they were during Soviet times. I mean they don't still have the same president or anything.... Oh.
The most hilarious thing in all these reports is Usmanov's claim that it is both beneath his dignity to respond to all the allegations, and that he isn't a vindictive man. His hiring of Schillings, who have been sending out chilling legal threats to anyone who dared to link to Murray's original post, was purely the action of someone who wanted the truth to be known! It's all been a big misunderstanding: he just didn't want silly mistakes to be made. How wrong and mean we've all been!
I am dealing with the British ambassador to Moscow to run some huge cultural events. We are bringing great artists to exhibit in Russian museums. Why not ask him about the secret intelligence he has received on me?
Yeah, that's a great idea Alisher. I'm sure he'll be more than happy to share that "secret" intelligence with us. In any case, if it's the same intelligence that Murray received, as it doubtless is, he'll already know the truth but will have to bite his lip.
Decrying the “prejudice material” written about him, Mr Usmanov says he is tiring of firing off various law suits. Asked whether the continuation of such allegations would make him think about walking away from Arsenal, he says: “I’ll think about it.” But enemies were left in no doubt he would not shirk a fight. “If it is initiated to drive me out, I stay.”
Funny that. Craig Murray has still yet to receive a writ for his original allegations, but Usmanov claims he won't shirk from a fight. Strange that Schillings have already said they don't have any intentions to pursue Murray because they don't want to give him a platform on which to spread his views. They know full well that Usmanov would have a high chance of losing, and at the very least would be far more severely embarrassed than he already is.
Finally, to bring it all back towards the actual football aspect:
He also made it plain that, unlike Chelsea, Arsenal would have to pay their own way as a business rather than expect handouts. Usmanov may be a genuine fan of Arsenal – he even called Tony Adams “a real Gooner” – but he also referred to them as a “useful portfolio investment”.
Yes, you too can become a genuine fan of Arsenal as long as you're well briefed on their past by your PR advisers, as Usmanov obviously has been (although he gets at least three members of the 2002 double-winning team wrong). Then he gives the game away: anyone who describes a football club as a "useful portfolio investment" should never be let anywhere near the ground, let alone into the director's or chairman's box. Usmanov isn't just a phony, he's a vain, venal and pathetic man, and he will be fought every step of the way.
Tim Ireland - Usmanov begins a new PR push