Monday, November 19, 2007 

Usmanov-watch: Blanket denials from a man with a closet full of skeletons.

At long last, someone's finally managed to ask Alisher Usmanov pertinent questions about his relationship with Islam Karimov, dictator of Uzbekistan and Gafur Rakhimov, the Uzbek mafia boss. The Grauniad's actual profile and article are typically tame, although they expose the lie that Usmanov was pardoned by Gorbachev, but it's the unexpurgated answers that Usmanov bizarrely demanded be published in full which say a lot more than his bland denials seem to on first glance:

What can you tell us about your relationship with President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan and his daughter, Gulnora Karimova?

There isn't any relationship between me and President Karimov and any members of his family.

Yeah, sure. Usmanov's pardon, arranged by the Uzbek supreme court, was nothing whatsoever to do with Karimov.

Mr Wise mentioned one Gafur Rakhimov. You are on record as saying that you have known Mr Rakhimov for many years. Is this correct? What can you tell us about your relationship with Mr Rakhimov, and what can you say about these allegations against him?

As I've explained previously, I only knew him since he was a neighbour of my parents. I have never had, nor do I have any business dealings with him.

How very convenient! As Craig Murray points out, this is the equivalent of saying that he only knew Mr Capone because he lived next door to him.

In December 1998, Lord Owen told the Observer newspaper that you had informed him that your criminal convictions were being annulled by Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan. What can you tell us about your relationship with President Karimov?

I have answered this already.

Do you accept that President Karimov was involved in the annulment of your criminal convictions? If so, what part did he play?

My criminal convictions were not annulled, but reconsidered by the Supreme Court, during which the evidence was found proving that the case was a trumped-up one.

The decision on my complete discharge was taken by the Supreme Court, not by the President. I have no relationship with President Karimov, and this is the second time I have to answer the question.

By the way, the verdict was appealed in the Supreme Court in post soviet Uzbekistan by two other persons, who were convicted in the case. Being a citizen of another country I had no chance to do it. People spinning this rubbish prefer to ignore certain facts that don't fit in their theories.

Usmanov, despite being advised by one of the top libel firms and another top PR company doesn't seem to have learned that when you're in a hole you're meant to stop digging.

There have been several reports in the Russian media detailing your appearances at social events organised by President Karimov's daughter, Gulnora Karimova, at the invitation of Ms Karimova. At least one of these reports has appeared in a newspaper that you own. (Kommersant, November 20 2006). It has also been widely reported that Ms Karimova played a role in assisting Gazprom with its gas export deal, by which Gazprom secured the rights to exploit Uzbekistan's gas reserves. What can you tell us about your friendship with Ms Karimova?

I have only met Ms Karimova during official events organised by the Uzbekistan embassy and by the Cultural Fund of Uzbekistan in Moscow.

Is it correct that Ms Karimova also played a role in assisting Gazprom with its gas export deal?

I know nothing about this. I believe that all the deals by Gazprom are made in conformity with a common business practice, like in any public company.

Did you work in conjunction with Ms Karimova in securing the deal?

The nature of my limited acquaintance with Ms Karimova has already been clarified. I have never had any business dealings with her. Sincerely, I do not understand what makes you believe any claims to the contrary, especially coming from a person who hasn't presented nor does he have any evidence to support his position. I have no relationship, business or political alliances with Ms Karimova.

There's plenty here for the investigating hacks to dig into with a view to proving that Usmanov is lying. Expect plenty to be doing so right now.

Nothing that Usmanov has said here will dispel the circling rumours that he and Schillings attempted to stop from even being heard. Indeed, he might well have inadvertently given himself more than enough rope to hang himself with. His blanket denials of the many claims of Craig Murray and others rightly warrant further investigation; his attempt to be straight only furthers the belief that he has plenty to hide, and his previous charm offensives and playing of the victim have done nothing to halt the questions surrounding his background. Further legal flurries seem likely once the truth begins to seep out.

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Monday, October 15, 2007 

Usmanov-watch: Playing the victim.

From one revolting end of the Murdoch empire to another, the Alisher Usmanov charm offensive was back on yesterday in one of the most sycophantic, one-sided articles to appear in a so-called newspaper of record. Congratulations have to go to
It was partly in an attempt to curb claims of a shady past that he invited me to his Moscow mansion and agreed to talk for the first time about the circumstances that led to his being imprisoned in 1980. Usmanov runs his empire from the headquarters of Metal-loinvest, his main company, in a lavish building in central Moscow fitted with Italian marble and heavy chandeliers. From there I was driven 30 miles along Rublovka, a road that cuts through a forest of firs to a “billionaires’ row” where Usmanov has a 30-acre estate beside the Moscow river. A 16ft-high metal fence encircles the property.

Usmanov, who never leaves home without a retinue of bodyguards armed with machine-guns, was working in a large, single-storey wooden villa which he has built as a private office next to his palatial house.

Casually dressed in a Lacoste polo shirt, tracksuit bottoms and leather slippers, he was sitting in an armchair, advising a friend on the telephone on how best to clinch a £1m deal. In front of him was a small table and a bell with which to summon staff.

In the next room, his personal adviser on equities was checking the latest share prices on a 30in computer screen.

Sipping tea after his phone call, Usmanov studied the screen with the analyst as they discussed whether to sell a large holding in a Russian bank. A butler delivered frequent messages or passed on one of several mobile phones on which the tycoon fielded further calls.

If you aren't throwing up already having read just that extract, then both Tim and Craig himself
thoroughly fisk and destroy this partial, despicably craven meeting of convenience. Craig incidentally, despite never being served with anything approaching a writ, is described thusly:

Usmanov rejected the charges and threatened to sue Murray “if he can first prove that he is completely sane”.

Usmanov likes playing the victim, that's for sure. A venal bully with the full weight of his fortune and power behind him picking on those who dare to call him on his dubious past, and he's the one who's been wronged.

“I was a victim and when I came out I realised I had one last chance to make a success of my life. I won’t fall so low as to fight those who want to blacken my name. Let their slurs weigh on their conscience. Mine is clean.”

No, he's more than happy to slur his accusers by questioning their sanity while his shysters at Schillings and PR associates as Finsbury PR do the real leg-work. It may be down to last week's Usmanov story in the Sunset Times, about his connections with, err, corruption and fraud, allegations which curiously go unnoted in the interview that this piece of arslikhan inspired, but that doesn't acquit the ST. This is simply lazy, callow journalism from a newspaper that once exposed the Thalidomide scandal. How far away those days seem.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007 

Usmanov-watch: Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Alisher Usmanov is a man without a blemish on his character. His stay in prison in Uzbekistan during the 80s was down to a vendetta being cooked up against him by the KGB. He only has the best of intentions in trying to gain control of Arsenal, and unlike the other Russian oligarchs, he made his money entirely legitimately.

That at least is what Usmanov and his collective of cunts at Schillings have been trying to get across to the media, with the pain of potential litigation if they deviate from their personally prepared script.

It's a great shame then that this view of Usmanov is somewhat shattered by a report in today's Sunday Times:

Arsenal tycoon Alisher Usmanov in diamond ‘fraud’ row The Russian tycoon who has bought a £120m stake in Arsenal, the Premier League leaders, has been accused in court papers of “fraud” and “unjust enrichment” in a dispute over one of the world’s most lucrative diamond mines.

Alisher Usmanov has been named in documents filed by lawyers acting for a firm controlled by the Oppenheimer family, the billionaire dynasty behind the De Beers diamond corporation.


The latest controversy concerns a court action in Denver, Colorado where hearings are due to start next month. At stake is the ownership of the so-called Grib Pipe, a fabulously rich diamond mine in the Arkhangelsk region of northern Russia.

The mining firm, Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC) in which De Beers owns a controlling stake, claims it is entitled to an interest in the Grib Pipe, which was discovered in 1996. The Grib Pipe is now said to be one of the largest diamond mines in the world, with a prospective value of £4.5 billion.

But in the Colorado court papers, ADC has alleged that Usmanov and other Russian interests “engaged in fraud in order to deceive” it over an agreement it says it had to take a 40% interest in the mine.


The case stems from a decision in the late 1990s by the government of Boris Yeltsin to strip the assets of Western diamond firms and hand them over to a clique close to the Kremlin.

Foreign firms were encouraged to develop exploration and mining concessions with a view to improving the local economy. They say few in Russia expected that anyone would strike diamonds in the remote area.

Many companies, including Rio Tinto and BHP, withdrew after finding little of value. But in 1996 ADC unexpectedly struck a rich vein.

It was shortly after this, the court papers allege, that Usmanov and others who were involved with a big Russian oil firm became party to a scheme to drive ADC out of Russia and take over the diamond project for themselves. The Russian firm in the joint venture was privatised and after this, ADC was denied access to develop the mine.

We should be careful of course. Usmanov might be entirely innocent of these allegations. It does however somewhat shatter Usmanov's argument that his money was made entirely legitimately and without any help from the Kremlin. It's also just a coincidence that Usmanov was jailed in the 80s on fraud and theft charges, and here he is, just after he's tried to charm the media into believing it was all a conspiracy against him, being accused of err, fraud and "unjust enrichment", which I'm sure you'll agree is completely different to stealing. Usmanov claims his parents did not bring him up as a "a gangster and a racketeer", two of the charges Murray made against him, and he could well be telling the truth. He seems more than capable of developing those qualities later in life.

The Times' article also informs us of the PR firm that Usmanov has seemingly hired to transform his image from an obese, toad-like megalomaniac to that of a kindly, slighted benefactor. Finsbury Limited, Usmanov's choice, are just as boastful of their prowess as Schillings are. Finsbury count some of the following delightful companies as clients:

British Sky Broadcasting Plc
Daily Mail and General Trust plc
Northern Rock plc

Reed Elsevier PLC (responsible for the arms fairs held in London's Docklands every year)
Rio Tinto plc

Royal Dutch Shell plc
Equitable Life

You get the feeling that even they are going to have their work cut out spinning for this ghastly, mendacious bully.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007 

Usmanov and Schillings watch: Indymedia latest to be threatened.

Seems like Usmanov's legal shysters, Schillings' tactics have been to let the dust settle slightly after the uproar over the taking down of Craig Murray/Bloggerheads etc, then to continue exactly as before.

UK Indymedia are the latest to be threatened:

Indymedia UK has been issued with a takedown notice [10th of September & 21st of September] from lawyers acting for Alisher Usmanov. The notice served to Indymedia charged Indymedia with publishing allegedly libellous accusations about Usmanov, one of the richest men in Russia, recently linked to a possible hostile takeover of Arsenal FC.

This only makes Usmanov's charm offensive this week, involving the flying via private jet of at least 9 British journalists to his offices in Moscow, then putting them up in a five star hotel all the more shallow. He says he's not a vindictive man and that some of Murray's allegations are beneath his dignity to respond to, yet his lackey of legal brown-nosing sycophants are still trying to remove all mentions and republishing of Murray's original post, while still failing to respond either to Murray's request for them to sue him or to even explain how inaccurate his allegations are, apart from their completely untrue argument that Usmanov was pardoned by Gorbachev.

If either Schillings or Usmanov think we're going to continue to take their attempts to silence all criticism of this deeply unpleasant man lying down, then they've got another thing coming.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007 

Usmanov-watch: 9 out of 10 cats.

As something of an addendum to yesterday's post on Usmanov and the curious tale of the journos who didn't feel the need to disagree with anything he said after he'd provided them with a stay in a five-star hotel in Moscow as well as a trip itself in a luxury private jet, Tim has now listed the 10 journalists (Roger Blitz, FT) (David Bond, Telegraph) (Jason Burt, Independent) (Shaun Curtis, Scum) (Matt Dickinson, Times) (Richard Galpin, BBC) (Martin Lipton, Mirror) (Charles Sale, Daily Mail) (Matt Scott, Grauniad, and there may possibly be more) who went on this jolly outing. Of those 10, only Charles Sale of (amazingly) the Daily Mail was completely honest about how he (and they) came to be meeting Usmanov.

I'm not usually one to bash the "MSM" as a whole, mainly because for the most part the broadsheet press (and the BBC, etc) in this country generally manage to conduct themselves with something approaching a probity that doesn't require any sort of intrusive regulation, and quite right too. The tabloids, as even a casual reader will mostly know, are a different matter entirely. This sort of thing though is widespread, and as these pieces all prove, the broadsheet press can be just as complicit in it as any of the gutter rags. It'd be nice to think that bloggers are on the whole above this sort of thing, but that again is also mostly wishful thinking, as previous experiences involving Guido and others testify.

It also won't do to be too high and mighty about it. As any trainee hack will know, you sometimes have to scratch a back or lick an arse in order to get anywhere. We're meant though to have one of the most attack-dog media atmospheres of anywhere in the world, tenacious, unafraid to ask the difficult questions and potentially become unpopular for doing so. In practice, this is mostly complete rot, as the McCann case has showed. I'd go so far to say that some of the media is downright cowardly: they feel more than able to smear, attack and lie about those that can't defend themselves, but when it comes to those who can wield a big stick, as Usmanov certainly can, they instantly turn servile and unquestioning, especially when provided with top quality accommodation and all expenses paid beanos to Moscow.

The other thing to point out is also that the vast majority of these hacks are in effect working for incredibly rich and powerful men or women themselves: whether it's Murdoch, the Barclays, Lord Rothermere or Tony O'Reilly (Richard Desmond would be included in this list but it doesn't appear that one of his hacks was invited), they themselves tend to stick together. Too much questioning of other VIPs can bring swift retribution in whichever form they decide is best. You can't expect a Sun hack to start asking questions of someone about tax avoidance, for instance, without leaving that individual with a gaping open goal to shoot into.

To be frank however, we're the ones who are paying the wages of these people, whether we're clicking on the ads on their sites or actually buying the paper. To have to read all ten articles on the same matter to get a full picture of what was said and how it came to be said is an incredibly poor reflection on the state of the media, or at least when it involves reporting on the rich and currently not yet famous. We rely on these journalists to keep us informed, and not to mention how they came to be in Moscow is shoddy, if not to say dishonest. We deserve better.

Update: Tim received a reply from the FT which clarifies their position on matters of hospitality such as this. Also apologies to Richard Galpin of the BBC who is apparently based in Moscow.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007 

Usmanov-watch: Charm offensive by a charmless man.

There's a well-known trick in the world of PR that's meant to help journalists feel more sympathetic towards their client. If the client is suitably rich, they suggest that they stay wherever it is they live, and let the interviewers/hacks come to them, in an as luxurious fashion as possible.

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.

Related post:
Tim Ireland - Usmanov begins a new PR push

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007 

Usmanov-watch: Revealed as yet another grasping, greedy megalomanical oligarch.

Obese freedom-of-speech denying Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov has finally had his true colours fully revealed. Far from investing in Arsenal because he's a fan of the team, as his PR advisers have been furiously spinning since his first purchase of shares, today's Grauniad reports that he first had designs on Liverpool:

Arsenal's second-largest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, held exploratory talks over a bid for Liverpool before the club was sold to Tom Hicks and George Gillett in a £174m deal.

The then Liverpool chairman, David Moores, received a representative of the Uzbek billionaire alongside the two Americans and the Dubai Investment Capital group at a time when he was courting potential investors. But when it became clear that Moores would sell out entirely Usmanov chose to pursue a "meaningful" but minor stake in Arsenal.

Likely to make Arsenal fans even more suspicious of his motives is what he was advised to do after abandoning any designs on Liverpool:

His advisers recommended purchasing Tottenham Hotspur or Derby County outright...

Quite obvious then that Usmanov doesn't have even the slightest knowledge of Arsenal football club and its history. Nevertheless, he's been talking to the BBC about his future plans for eventually purchasing the club:

"We don't have the capacity today, but this is business and life is changing," he said. "Something that you can't do today, maybe you can do tomorrow."

How very true. One could suggest that life is changing in that Usmanov and his scumbag set of shysters, Schillings, would have once been able to stop any newspaper from printing the allegations that Craig Murray temporarily hosted on his website; now, thanks to the internet, Murray's original post, despite being removed under legal threat from its original place of publication, is still available at a wide variety of places that are incredibly easy to discover. You could also compare it to Usmanov's past: despite being imprisoned for corruption, he's now a billionaire businessman. Those two things are most certainly not connected. Remember that.

Something else can most certainly be discerned from this latest update on Usmanov's past and future dealings and plans though. He's cut from the same cloth as the Glazers: men without the slightest interest in the actual football club, the fans or anything other than how their investment will benefit them. Their only care is how it'll will extend both their own self image and their bank balance, and as last week showed, Arsenal is currently highly profitable. Not content with his dealings with such doyens of the international community as Islom Karimov, world famous for his boiling of opponents to his dictatorship to death, he wishes for his bloated reach to extend worldwide, to further polish his oversized ego to go with his grotesque, outsize body. In short, this man is a complete and utter cunt. Stopping him from gaining control of Arsenal should now be an obligation on all fans.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007 

Usmanov-watch: The tide continues to turn.

Major kudos go out to both Peter Hill-Wood, Arsenal chairman who has strongly come out and said that neither does he want nor does the club need Usmanov's money, and to the Grauniad, which is continuing to follow up on the actions and reverberations started by Usmanov and his legal shysters, Schillings, attempting to silence Craig Murray and numerous other bloggers.

The article also provides this confirmation that Schillings realise they can't disprove Murray's accusations, but they sure can try to stop them from being read and disseminated:

Laura Tyler, of Schillings, said they did not intend to sue Murray directly because they did not want to give him a platform to express his views.

Considering how much a joke our libel laws are, leaving the defendant to prove their allegations rather than the litigant to prove that the allegations are defamatory, one would have thought that Schillings would be more than happy to go to court and potentially ruin Murray. That they have no intention of doing so speaks volumes.

Tim meanwhile has set up temporary shop to deal with the whole saga here. Matt Wardman also has the speech made by MEP Tom Wise last night, which thanks to parliamentary privilege should be able to be freely reported without any legal difficulties, but don't expect that to make any difference. Unity also writes a first of series of posts on rewriting the libel laws.

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Friday, September 21, 2007 

Usmanov and Schillings-watch: The web bites back.

I said on yesterday's post that Schillings really didn't know who they were messing with, and the overwhelming response from bloggers not just here in the UK but across the globe has rather vindicated it. Justin is already tracking 121 blogs that have posted on the actions of Usmanov's lackeying legal losers, and there are likely to be dozens more which haven't been identified yet.

Only MediaGrauniad and the Mirror (in the form of a Kevin Maguire blog post) have so far picked up on it from the MSM, but there's bound to be other pieces in tomorrow's press following the story up, especially considering that Boris Johnson has denounced the fact that his blog, set up by Tim and Clive, is among those to have been brought down by Fasthosts capitulation. Their claim that Tim and Clive had failed to remove the content in question is laughable; both Tim and Clive had more than accommodated Schillings' requests over what had to be removed. Quite simply, this had moved on from being a matter based on the posting of so-called defamatory material to a vendetta against the web-hosts. Schillings' problem is that it knows full well that Craig Murray has plenty of evidence to back up his original allegations, and the fact that they haven't served him personally with a writ, as he has requested, only proves the shallowness of their actions. They couldn't get the ball, so they decided to take out the men instead. Their reputation, backed up on their website by the laughable case studies currently being mocked across the "blogosphere", was at stake: too bad that they cared too much about that to notice that other well-known political figures were being hosted by Tim and Clive.

Indeed, if there was ever an example of blogging blowback, this is it. Dozens more blogs are now mirroring Craig's original post which started this whole mess; Arsenal fans and others who previously wouldn't have come across some of the unsavoury information about the possible future owner are now able to see him for the freedom of speech denying obese toad that he is; and the mainstream media itself, previously threatened before it had even printed a word about Usmanov are able to point their readers' in the direction of information they otherwise wouldn't have mentioned.

More pertinently to the legal side of things, it's understandably caused a commendable discussion about the ridiculous and discriminatory nature of our libel laws, now notorious for being a beacon for every tycoon, tyrant and half-wit with a grievance about an unpleasant article/book written about themselves to come and try their luck through our court system. Unity suggests that if any of us are ever called to serve on a libel jury, we move to return a not guilty verdict on the grounds that the law is an ass, as previously used during the Clive Ponting trial. Others are talking of a campaign along the lines of the current one over Iraqi employees of the armed forces. Others still are remarking on Usmanov's suitability to become Arsenal owner, should he succeed in an eventual takeover bid, something he's now raised the possibility of, noting the FA's recently adopted rules.

Now the cat's out of the bag, Schillings are going to quickly learn that it's going to be next to impossible to put this particularly agile, modern and digital pussy back in.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007 

Usmanov-watch: A pyrrhic victory.

Alisher Usmanov and his shower of lackeying legal cunts, Schillings, have finally pulled off a very pyrrhic victory. Despite comprehensively failing to remove Craig Murray's original blog post about Usmanov, which is still around if you know where to look, they've managed to spook Tim Ireland's webhost so much that they've pulled the plug on Tim and Clive's cluster of sites, also including Bob Piper, Boris Johnson and Craig Murray's blogs.

My advice to anyone thinking of starting a blog is to get it hosted with a US-based company. Not only are their rates usually remarkably cheaper than anything you'll be offered over here, but legal firms find it difficult to get anything removed, thanks to the good old first amendment. Won't stop them threatening you personally of course, but your webhosts themselves couldn't care less, as neither time have I been threatened has Dreamhost even bothered to contact me.

Knowing Tim, not to mention Craig and the others, Schillings really have picked the wrong people to start a fight with.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007 

Usmanov-watch: More purchasing of shares, as well as paintings.

Great friend of this blog Alisher Usmanov is continuing his purchasing of Arsenal shares, with the BBC reporting that he now possesses 21% through his Red and White Holdings company, set up in conjunction with Farhad Moshiri. Danny Fizman is now the only remaining shareholder to own a higher percentage, of 24%.

All this has been going on while Usmanov's lawyers, Schillings, no doubt being handsomely renumerated for their "hard" work threatening bloggers, have been sending out cease and desist letters to anyone daring to criticise Usmanov, especially to newspapers, who have been informed that Usmanov's spell in prison during Soviet times was "politically motivated" and that he was pardoned by Gorbachev. Craig Murray's post on all things Usmanov is still available if you know where to look.

Usmanov's relationship with Uzbekistan's current brutal dictator, Islom Karimov, whose security services have been known to rape prisoners with broken bottles, not to mention the odd case or two of boiling to death, seems to be the basis for Usmanov's current attempts to further woo Putin and the Russian ruling class in general, despite owning the nominally liberal and oppositional Kommersant newspaper. Yesterday Usmanov paid over £25m to stop a Sotheby's auction of the art collection of the late Mstistlav Rostropovich, delighting the Russian government agency for culture, Roskultura, which described the collection as "invaluable". According to the Grauniad, Sotheby's initially refused to name the purchaser, only giving it once prompted, which seems to continue Usmanov's choice to stay in the shadows and send his legal attack dogs in first, despite the fact that his purchase of Arsenal shares is a cause of concern to the tens of thousands of fans across the world. Buying culture to impress the authoritarian Putin is one thing, buying a football club is quite another.

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Monday, September 10, 2007 

Anyone got a Schilling update.

Schillings have finally this afternoon deigned to reply to my two messages sent on Thursday evening. They requested that I remove their "copyrighted" letter, which I have done, not because I either want to, have to or feel the need to, but because I see no reason to prolong this pointless encounter. They and I consider the matter closed.

This whole affair has only once again highlighted how once a supposedly libelous article/post is out there online, it's incredibly difficult for it be removed, and not even Schillings, according to the drivel on their website about how they're the most feared and leading law firm, are likely to succeed in removing it from all the other sites it has subsequently spread to. Going after bloggers' only linking to articles is also one of the most cowardly and indefensible actions that these parasites, earning vast amounts of money working for some of the most unsavoury characters around spend their time doing. I do indeed hope that they sleep well at night.

Update: Added "Alisher Usmanov" to the labels so that this post will show up on the page currently being linked to by numerous bloggers explaining the temporary disappearance of Bloggerheads and other sites, thanks to Alisher Usmanov and his band of arse-lickers, Schillings.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007 

Anyone got a Schilling?

Stop! You can't link to that!

There's very little quite like the joy on returning home of an evening to find that you've been legally threatened in your absence. Last year this involved an injunction from the "dangerously deceitful, ruthless, exploitative and corrupt" Mr Mahzer Mahmood, courtesy of his lawyers, Farrer and Co. Imagine my excitement on finding the following in my inbox, this time from Schillings, acting on behalf of a certain Alisher Usmanov (you'll have to click to enlarge:)

Update: letter removed, not because I feel the need to bow to Schillings request that it be taken down or have to, but because I see no reason to prolong this pointless little affair.

I'm not the first to receive the delightful threats from Schillings on behalf of their client, nor probably the last: Julian Bond, owner of the UK blog aggregator also had Schillings on the phone telling him to remove Murray's post. His site had reproduced it verbatim: my original post, now edited to remove Craig's "false, indefensible and grossly defamatory" comments, only linked to Craig's while using his title as the hyperlink. It now only links to Craig's post. Having emailed Tim at Bloggerheads, it seems that Schillings have also now contacted Craig himself.

Schillings themselves aren't exactly very bright: here they are having apparently mailed/faxed a letter out to Dreamhost, based in the good old land of the free, and they're citing a legal precedent set in this country in order to threaten them. Good job Schillings; unless Mr Usmanov intends to sue Dreamhost in this country, I don't think you're going to get very far.

In any case, I've phoned up Schillings, discovered that those responsible for Mr Usmanov have left the office, and talked to the apparent work experience kid, who will relate my edits to the "false, indefensible and grossly defamatory" post to his superiors. There are however just a few other points to make:

1. Considering I currently have to my name somewhere in the region of £150.00 and no collateral whatsoever, neither Schillings nor Mr Usmanov if they pursued their action would get very rich off me.

2. That going after bloggers simply linking to a post because your big baby of a client has thrown his rattle out of the pram has to make you one of the most insufferable, sycophantic, brown-nosing little toadies on the face of the planet. Oh, I forgot, "you're only doing your job".

3. I would like to refer Schillings, although not their client, as he seems the kind who might be offended, to the precedent set by Arkell vs Pressdram, or indeed, to any of the legal responses from the Pirate Bay, such as this one. Thank you.

Update: Craig's original post has been temporarily removed pending legal advice.

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Monday, September 03, 2007 

One nil...

Update: slight changes made in response to legal threat from Alisher Usmanov's lawyers, Schillings.

I always thought it was vaguely appropriate that one of Russia's robber barons, Roman Abramovich, had taken over Chelsea, that most middle class constituency in the whole country. Quite what the asparagus munching, bruschetta lovers of Islington would make of Alisher Usmanov, described in strident terms by Craig Murray here, is another matter. As an Arsenal fan, I'd much rather that we finish 4th every season than become the next club to be taken over by the latest foreign businessman flush with cash made from allegedly dubious sources.

It's quite true that football's always been a corrupt game, as one of our previous managers showed. It's quite another for football clubs to become the latest playthings for the disgustingly rich, plowing money into them simply because they can, or as you suspect with the Glazer family's takeover of Manchester United, to in the end make even more. There was a good reason why in the cases of both United and Wimbledon, now the horrid MK Dons, that the fans rightly felt their clubs had been taken from them, just the latest machinations of global capitalism, to be bought, sold and used like an exceptionally successful whore.

It's always come down to how hungry the fans are for success: Thaksin Shinawatra's takeover of Manchester City was welcomed purely because of how wretched City's recent history has been, no matter how corrupt or deadly his business dealings or crackdowns on drug trafficking were while he was Thailand's prime minister. As for Arsenal, although the last couple of seasons have been more challenging than previously, almost purely because of the money being pumped into both Man Utd, Chelsea and now Liverpool, we're the only club able to boast about going a whole Premiership season without losing a game. Our football is still majestic, the beautiful game as it ought to be played, even if we concentrate more on looking pretty than shooting at times. We have success, more is likely to come, as long as we keep Mr Wenger; what more do we want?

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