Convicted BlackMailer Usmanov Gets Stake in Facebook

by craig on May 27, 2009 5:44 am in Usmanov

People who flirt on Facebook – and why else join – may be less than enamoured by the fact that a $200 million stake has been bought by a company of which the biggest shareholder is a major criminal convicted of … blackmail.

Gangster and racketeer Alisher Usmanov was jailed in the Soviet Union when he finally overreached himself and attempted to blackmail a Jewish KGB officer.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/facebook-indirectly-obtains-a-colorful-backer

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Alisher Usmanov was pardoned by his croney President Karimov of Uzbekistan, perhaps the World’s most vicious dictator. Karimov runs a gangster state and political opponents have been boiled alive.

I was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan and I will swear to these facts on oath before any court.

Usmanov became a billionaire oligarch in the gangster takeover of Russia’s “privatised” mineral assets. He is close to Putin, and has been used by him to buy up and neutralise much of the little remaining independent media in Russia. Usmanov does this in his own name or as Chairman of GazpromInvestHolding. Independent journalists have died in mysterious accidents following Usmanov takeovers.

For a blackmailer who is a key tool in Putin’s increasingly authoritarian regime, to have a share in Facebook is totally unacceptable. Perhaps someone might start a Facebook group against it?

Usmanov uses lawyers to close down blogs who carry these facts. His lawyers, Schillings, will assert a number of lies in response:

Schillings Lie 1 Usmanov was a political prisoner

UNTRUE He was a gangster convicted of blackmail. There was no political element. (It has been hinted to me that anti-Semitism might have formed part of the motive, but without supporting evidence for that theory I think it was just greed).

Schillings Lie 2 Usmanov received a full pardon from President Gorbachev

UNTRUE He was pardoned by President Karimov of Uzbekistan after the fall of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev greatly dislikes Usmanov

Schillings Lie 3 He was convicted because he took the rap for a friend

UNTRUE Usmanov only started using this line when I revealed he was not a political prisoner but a racketeer. Nobody else ever mentioned such a theory to me.

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23 Comments

  1. Do you really think that 99.9 per cent, of Facebook users give a damn who owns it?

  2. Why not set up an anti-Usmanov Facebook group and invite all your friends to join and invite their friends? This can spread information pretty quickly – and become a news story outside Facebook too.

    It would be best if you set it up because that would be more newsworthy than if, for instance, I set it up.

  3. I remember trying to describe the purpose of Facebook to a Russian friend a couple of years ago, explaining how users could post details of whatever they had (or hadn’t) been doing. At the end of this explanation she concluded: “so it’s like the KGB?”.

  4. Do you think he is looking at his lawyer’s postings; Keith Schilling is on facebook.

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=678817989#

  5. Anticant,

    Yes, actually I do think very many facebook users would care if they knew. I find your attitude of smug cynicism rather wearing. It is just possible you are not really that much brighter than everybody else.

  6. @anticant – your comment at the start of this thread is quite out of character with your far more considered postings elsewhere on this blog. It rather sounds like you don’t think that the 99.9% *ought* to care, which is troubling.

    [Hello to the other Jon on this thread - there are (at least) two of us! Perhaps I should choose a less popular moniker?]

  7. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00317/Keith_Schilling_185_317928a.jpg

    In April 2008, Schilling was placed at No 10 in the Times list of UK’s most powerful lawyers. Guess who was No. 2 – Straw!!

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3785478.ece

  8. kathz

    I don’t do stuff with an Uzbek connection on Facebook because I have several Uzbek friends on it for whom it could be very dangerous indeed.

  9. Im with anticant on this.

    The intelligent facebook users wont post anything important on there that they wouldnt want anyone to read, so they dont care.

    The stupid facebook users dont realise the implications of giving dodgy people access to important info and are too stupid to care.

  10. Interesting – I followed Mary’s link to business.timesonline, and clicked on the Jack Straw link. The major advertisement that came up on that page was for BEA Systems, and how much they add to the British GDP. Probably just coincidence, I suppose…

  11. Incidentally, I have mentioned to a number of non-political friends the dangers of posting information on Facebook that they would not want other people to see. The response I often get is “you shouldn’t worry as they have ‘privacy controls’”.

    This rather misses the point. Systems labelled by Facebook as ‘privacy controls’ only protect one person’s information from another. They do not protect it from Facebook, who can hand it to whoever they like (or whoever they are legally required to hand it to). To trust the privacy controls you would have to trust all Facebook administrator staff as you would a friend, which for most people should be impossible.

    The sensible solutions are: (1) don’t use Facebook at all, or (2) only place on Facebook what you would put on a public-access website with no privacy controls.

  12. Jon, I’m sure many people “ought” to do lots of things that they don’t.

    Craig, I would never ever dream of suggesting that I am brighter than you. We all know that you are the ultimate Bees Knees.

  13. @anticant: that statement is true. So, do you think that Facebook users ought to be concerned that Usmanov has bought a stake in Facebook?

  14. $200 million buys you less than 2%(Though he should have only paid around $50 million. )

    Usmanov has a stake of around 30% in the company that bought that stake.

    So Usmanov has bought 0.006 of facebook.

    Depends how the investment company Usmanov is run on how the 2% is used, but either way I don’t think much of it apart from two things.

    1. Sell any facebook shares as Usmanov can turn gold into lead.

    2. People who use facebook should worry about that very fact in the first place.

    Morons.

  15. May

    “Usmanov has a stake of around 30% in the company that bought that stake.”

    Usmanov’s holdings are never straightforward. He uses complex vehicles. And Milner is a front.

  16. I’m sure they “ought” to be, Jon, but I’m even more certain that 99.9 per cent. of them haven’t a clue who Usmanov is, and couldn’t care less – any more than a huge proportion of ‘Sun’ readers know anything about Murdoch while they happily lap up the ordure he dishes out to them.

    This is not “smug cynicism” – just realistic appraisal of the depth of public ignorance and apathy to which our so-called “democracy” has sunk.

    And, frankly, I’m more than somewhat tired of Craig’s incorrigible propensity for blogging by insult. If he doesn’t agree with peoples’ opinions, he might at least refrain from calling them names. It demeans him and his blog. So this is my last comment here. Goodbye.

  17. I dont care if he travels by hover car, 2% gets Usmanov FA say on how the company works. You should be happy Craig, this is just a bad investment that will cost Usmanov a bit of his filthy lucre.

  18. @anticant: you are right that most people don’t know who Usmanov is, or Murdoch, or whoever. I certainly wasn’t attacking you, just to keep the record straight. I just thought your initial post was unusually cynical, and that it was very different from the usual quality of your well-considered liberal outlook.

    I too find Craig’s style a touch too abrasive, and although he has pissed off a great deal of bloggers who probably *do* deserve to be pissed off, I don’t know whether it is a helpful approach. It may render him a reputation as a troublemaker rather than a decent activist, though I fully believe the latter to be the case.

    With that all in mind, I would ask you to reconsider on refraining from commenting here. As you know we have a couple of infuriatingly mad pundits, a predictable set of Zionists, Nu Labour clones and a handful of neo-conservative crackpots. A good set of balanced liberal commentators is much in need!

  19. Thanks, Jon – I’ve “done my bit” in public life, and am now elderly and coping with quite severe chronic health problems. I blog for pleasure and interest, not out of duty. If I get personally insulted because my opinions don’t ‘fit’ – as has happened recently both here and on Ken Frost’s blog – the process becomes boring and irritating, so why should I bother continuing?

    It’s up to Craig to decide what sort of commentators he wants to attract and retain, and how responsive he is to his studio audience. For the time being, at least, I shall remain a silent occasional observer.

  20. Anticant,

    You are making a peculiar jump. Your opinions are exremely welcome, whether I agree with them or not. I should be most sad if you left us.

  21. “Facebook”…

    http://tinyurl.com/7t9cnx

  22. Thanks, Craig. You know I appreciate your courage, good-heartedness and wit. I also understand – as a human being and a therapist – how one sometimes feels better by hitting out at people. But I do think there’s a line to be drawn between being personally rude about public figures like Dorries and Straw, who put themselves in the market place for it, and sneering at your commentators when you disagree with them. Perhaps I’m a bit thin-skinned about it, but that’s me.

    And I really do despair at the steep decline in average knowledge and awareness after a dozen years of Blair’s “Educashun, educashun, educashun.” I think that the percentage of the population who aren’t well informed about most things, and even more deeply unaware about their own ignorance, has increased and is increasing. So we live more than ever before in a world where large inert dogs are wagged by small and often sinister tails, and this is deeply worrying.

    I’m pretty sure you agree with this, and won’t write it off as snobbery or elitism on my part.

    I hope Nadira and Cameron are thriving and that you aren’t losing too much sleep. Let us know.

  23. Funny you feel the need to mention Usmanov having blackmailed a “Jewish” KGB officer.

    Evidence seems to indicate Usmanov himself is Jewish.

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