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We now perhaps know why it was this week that Craig Murray’s website was finally forced off the internet. Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, had related Uzbeki/Russian oligarch’s Alisher Usmanov’s time in prison in the 1980s (he was eventually pardoned, but not by Gorbachev as his lawyer’s wistfully imply; rather, by Putin, a close friend of the Uzbeki) and his connections to the very shady Uzbeki rulers. Well, Usmanov is ready to begin the end game in his takeover of Arsenal, and doubtless he didn’t want such messy information clouding his reputation.
It’s going to be messy for Arsenal fans. According to the BBC:
Russian media reported that Mr Usmanov now aims to up his share in Arsenal to at least 25% plus one share.
Should Mr Usmanov reach a 29.9% stake holding in the club then he would be obliged to make a takeover offer.
“I want to be in a position that will allow me a blocking stake and will then wait for it to go up in value,” Interfax news agency quoted Usmanov as saying in a live broadcast on Ekho Moskvy radio station.
A “blocking stake” would be a stake high enough to make the corporate running of the club more tricky to carry out without a certain amount of shareholder backing.
“It refers to a stakeholding that would make it difficult for the club to do what it wants,” said Harry Philp, of football finance consultants Hermes Sports Partners.
“It is tied up with Arsenal’s corporate structure, and the fact that there will be certain actions where the club will need a level of shares behind it before it can go ahead.”
As David Warner at AOL’s Fanhouse reports, bloggers left right and center have also reacted against this cynical move by his lawyers, the high-priced Schillings.
This is not the first time Usmanov has involved himself in the media. He purchased Kommersant, which had been one of the few critical outlets against Putin in Russia, not long after his pardon by the Russian President.
The blogosphere has really united against the tactics of Usmanov’s lawyers, from football to politics. Let me state again that this is not a question of irresponsible bloggers getting their just desserts. Usmanov’s lawyers are deliberately not going after Murray for his original claims, despite the fact he’s begged them to challenge him in a British court of law even with the absurdly strong libel laws there: they’re deliberately targeting people, including pitchinvasion.net, hosting or even simply citing Murray’s original article, in the full knowledge most websites do not have the means to stand up legally to the 281st richest man in the world.
Here’s a full list, taken from the Chicken Yoghurt website, of all the blogs reporting on this. Thanks to all of them.
Curious Hamster, Pickled Politics, Harry’s Place, Tim Worstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric (who suggests dropping a line to the FA about Mr Usmanov), Mike Power, Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil’s Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots (and another), Wonko’s World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia (with a list of Craig Murray’s articles that are currently unavailable), Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme’s, >Random Thought, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman, Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, The People’s Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman’s Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc, The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D’Or, Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic, The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin’s Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day…, Kathz’s Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn’s Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge, Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing, BLTP, Gunnerblog, LFB UK, Liberal Revolution, Wombles, Focus on Sodbury…, Follow The Money, Freedom and Whisky, Melting Man, PoliticalHackUK, Simon Says…, Daily EM, From The Barrel of a Gun, The Fourth Place, The Armchair News Blog, Journalist und Optimist, Bristol Indymedia, Dave Weeden, Up North John, Gizmonaut, Spin and Spinners, Marginalia, Arnique, Heather Yaxley, The Whiskey Priest, On The Beat, Paul Canning, Martin Stabe, Mat Bowles, Pigdogfucker, Rachel North (193).
UPDATE: This story is going to hit the British press big time this weekend, in no small part due to the efforts of the blogs mentioned above. A journalist from More4 News called me this morning, and asked me to appear on their evening news as mine was one of the blogs that received a legal letter from Usmanov’s lawyers, Schillings. Unfortunately I couldn’t get hold of a webcam in time, but hopefully they will run a story on it anyway. If anyone’s in the UK, please have a look out and let me know if anything pops up.
I also believe there will be a number of stories in the newspapers about it over the weekend. Well done Schillings, way to raise awareness about the controversial past of your client.