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In a debate on the European Union’s common foreign policy on energy in the European Parliament on Tuesday — please, try to stay awake in class — Tom Wise, UK Independent Party MEP, put onto the record some of Craig Murray’s revelations about Alisher Usmanov.
Thomas Wise (IND/DEM). – Madam President, when the EU talks of a common foreign policy on energy, you need to be very aware of exactly who you propose to do business with. President Putin is on record as saying ‘The Commission should be under no illusions. If it wants to buy Russian gas, it has to deal with the Russian state.’
Gazprom is not a private company. It is a state-controlled tool of Russian foreign policy. It is, moreover, in the hands of President Putin’s political henchmen and, allegedly, organised crime. Take, for example, Alisher Usmanov. This gentleman, the son of a Communist apparatchik, is Chairman of Gazprom Invest Holdings, the group that handles Gazprom’s business activities outside Russia. He is the man we are doing business with. He is the man who cuts off gas supplies if client states dare to question Gazprom’s demands. Allegedly a gangster and racketeer, he served a six-year jail sentence in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, his eventual pardon coming at the behest of Uzbek mafia chief and heroin overlord Gafur Rakhimov, described as Usmanov’s mentor.
Usmanov bought the newspaper Kommersant. Three months later the journalist Ivan Safronov, a critic of the Putin regime who just weeks earlier had been vigorously interrogated by the FSB, as the KGB is now called, mysteriously fell to his death from his apartment window, still clutching a recently purchased bag of shopping.
According to Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, it was Usmanov who ordered the cutting off of supplies to Georgia earlier this year. Please take note, Madam President, the Kremlin has now refused to sanction the construction of a pipeline to the EU over Georgian territory. These are the people you want to do business with. These are the people around whom you want to mould your foreign policy on energy. Commissioner, good luck. You will need it.
Good luck Arsenal fans, too. You will also need it.