As I mentioned previously, I chose to take down my post about Craig Murray’s article on Alisher Usmanov (who now owns a substantial portion of Arsenal) last week following contact from Schillings, his lawyers. However, given the mainstream media’s remarkable ability to continually balls up this story, I have to revisit some of the facts.
I have been in contact with Paul Kelso, who writes the Digger column in the Guardian. Upon his request, I forwarded him the legal letter I received from Schillings. It seems he has been talking to many bloggers, as that’s the basis of his piece today, where he states the following:
Schillings, the lawyers acting for Usmanov, have been in touch with several independent Arsenal supporters’ websites and blogs warning them to remove postings referring to allegations made against him by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan.
Usmanov was jailed under the old Soviet regime but says that he was a political prisoner who was then freed and granted a full pardon once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power as president. Schillings have warned the websites that repetition of Murray’s allegations were regarded as “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory”.
I hope that he’s not actually referring to my blog there but others he’s talked to, as he prefaces it with “Arsenal supporters'”, which would be “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory” to myself.
But on a serious note, it’s infuriating that he repeats Usmanov’s claims that he was a “political prisoner” and that that he was “granted a full pardon once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power” with no qualifications. This is a line also recently repeated in The Times. Why are they saying this? Because Usmanov’s lawyers wrote to all the major newspapers pre-emptively with the statement that “He was fully pardoned after President Mikhail Gorbachev took office”.
Well, that’s true, in the same sense that England won the World Cup after World War Two ended. As far as I am able to ascertain, Gorbachev did not fully pardon Usmanov himself, and was in fact far from best chums with him; the full pardon was granted only in 2000 by Putin, to whom he is known to be close. As Murray states elsewhere, “Usmanov’s pardon was nothing to do with Gorbachev.”
It’s good that Kelso reported the intimidation blogs such as this one are being subjected to. Murray himself has less politely phrased concerns about the piece, too, however, and it’d be good if the media didn’t further muddy the waters every time they report on Usmanov.