Veteran bloggers Tim Ireland, Bob Piper and Boris Johnson have had their sites pulled by their ISP’s for criticising Alisher Usmanov, the alleged dodgy geezer who is trying to buy Arsenal football club.
People who have been into the blogging scene for a while will know that things like this have happened a few times in the past but that the censors never win.
Bob Piper the person who did a picture of David Cameron bloacked up for Bob Piper once threatened legal action to bloggers carrying a copy of a page that he thought he’d deleted – the page in question is, and always has been, available on this blog (Naughty Bob Piper). The Sun got a High Court injunction banning the publishing of images of a journalist they used to try and entrap George Galloway MP. The blogging community published hundreds of copies of his picture and the injunction was set aside because it was unenforceable.
The latest attempt to supress free speech comes courtesy of Alisher Usmanov’s lawyers, Schillings of London. Schillings are apparently well known for this sort of thing although I’ve not had any experience of them. Yet.
No doubt they’ll be in touch soon – the post by Craig Murray, the former Uzbekh ambassador and author of a book which criticises him, which Schillings are trying to censor is as follows:
September 2, 2007
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.
This text is available from the Google cached version of Craig Murray’s website and from other websites and blogs. Whether Craig Murray is right or wrong in what he says, he has a right to voice his opinion. If Alisher Usmanov or his lawyers, Schillings, have proof that this is libelous then they should seek redress through the courts. The fact that they simply threaten ISP’s and the media with legal action instead would suggest that the evidence doesn’t exist.
The fact also remains that not only has Craig Murray’s website been taken down but other websites that refer to it have also been taken down. If someone wants to talk about a public figure or talk about someone else talking about a public figure then their right to do that must be protected.
You can do something about this. Alisher Usmanov is a rich man but he cannot realistically take on hundreds or thousands of people. Copy the text above to your website or blog and help protect free speech.