Daily archives: September 8, 2007

Who Ate All The Pies?

From the Evening Standard, an article about Alisher Usmanov and me that is almost entirely wrong.

Arsenal billionaire in Red and White rumpus


A legal row has blown up between billionaire Alisher Usmanov, the man who has bought a ’75million stake in Arsenal, and the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Craig Murray, who became a fierce critic of the Uzbek government after being the ambassador to the country from 2002 to 2004, was yesterday forced to remove a series of critical comments about Usmanov from his personal website.

The former diplomat penned a piece about Usmanov after his company Red and White bought ex-Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein’s 14.58% stake in the club last week.

Usmanov was born in Uzbekistan before moving to Russia and Murray made a number of allegations about the tycoon’s links with the Uzbek regime.

Usmanov has instructed solicitors to take action against media outlets making any damaging claims about the businessman and they threatened to sue Murray unless the article was removed.


In fact, I have received no communication of any kind from Usmanov or his solicitors. the opposite is true; I telephoned Schillings and asked them to sue me, but they didn’t seem keen.

I know lawyers who would be delighted to have the chance to quiz Usmanov in the witness stand (if we can find one wide enough), about his criminal conviction in the Soviet Union, how he secured his pardon, his relationship with President Islam Karimov, Gulnara Karimova and Gafur Rakhimov, the sources of his wealth and the doings of Gazprom Investholdings. I should be interested in his views on the mysterious fall from a window of his employee Igor Safronov.

I know several people who would like to take the witness stand themselves.

To many people it might seem strange that somebody should need to get expensive libel lawyers to write to all newspapers, before anyone had published anything, threatening to take them to court if they did. Some people might conclude that indicates something to hide.

My earlier post was removed by my web server after the webhost was threatened with legal action. I have heard nothing – a cowardly way of proceeding, in my view. I support the webhost’s decision to remove the article rather than have the site, and other valuable sites, perhaps closed down. But once the truth has escaped onto the internet, it is out there, despite all their frantic efforts.

Everyone, whatever their crimes, deserves legal representation in the criminal law. But lawyers who, for money, work on suppressing the truth for people like Usmanov, are themselves slugs.

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US Diplomats and Human Rights

The house magazine for US diplomats, Foreign Service, has published its September 2007 issue on “Human Rights Promotion in the Post-9/11 Era”. It contains a number of excellent essays, and also one by me on the lessons of my time in Uzbekistan, which I reproduce here:

The Folly of a Short-Term Approach

By Craig Murray

Ambassador Craig Murray resigned from the British Diplomatic Service in February 2005. He is now rector of the University of Dundee and an honorary research fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law. His memoir of his time in Uzbekistan, Murder in Samarkand, is available from Amazon.co.uk. Paramount and Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B are producing a movie based on that memoir, with filming scheduled to begin in February 2008 under British director Michael Winterbottom.

I am very pleased to be offered the chance to pass on to you some thoughts on the conflict between human rights and the ‘War on Terror,’ drawn largely from my recent service as the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Uzbekistan. As a result of that experience, I should acknowledge, I was recently vetoed as a participant in a U.S.-sponsored seminar on that topic by a very senior State Department official, on the grounds that I was ‘viciously anti-American.’

That is not true, of course. Yes, I am a person who holds his beliefs very dear and who believes strongly in individual liberty in all spheres. Thus, I am a passionate supporter not just of democracy and human rights, but also of capitalism and free markets.

So how could someone with that belief set come to be perceived as anti-American? The answer is that I do not believe that recent U.S. foreign policy has promoted those goals at all, but rather has been doing something very different.

Walter Carrington Avenue

To illustrate what I mean, let me offer an example of diplomacy at its best. One of my inspirations was Walter Carrington, the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria from 1993 to 1997. Amb. Carrington never accepted the brutal dictatorship of the Sani Abacha regime (1993-1998), and constantly went beyond normal diplomatic behavior in assisting and encouraging human rights groups, and in making outspoken speeches on human rights and democracy.

Carrington’s approach was a direct challenge to the British Embassy in Nigeria, which pursued a much more traditional line of polite interaction with the president and his cohorts. This appeasement did us no good, as Abacha repeatedly moved against our interests; for example, he banned British Airways from flying into Nigeria. Nonetheless, my diplomatic colleagues looked down their long noses at Carrington with disdain, for raising unpleasant subjects like torture and execution at cocktail parties. (I regret to say that some of the career subordinates in the U.S. embassy did the same.)

The Abacha dictatorship hated Carrington so much that the Nigerian armed forces even stormed the ambassador’s farewell reception and arrested some Nigerian participants, a breach which was rightly condemned by the U.S. Congress. But a grateful Nigerian people did not forget his efforts on their behalf, and soon after Abacha’s downfall, the street on which the U.S. and British consulates in Lagos were situated was renamed by the local authorities as Walter Carrington Avenue. I believe it is still called that.

Carrington’s example taught me a great lesson in diplomacy: that the relationship of an embassy should be with the people of a country, not just with their authorities. Regimes which are hated by their people will never survive indefinitely, though they may endure a very long time. A fundamental role of an embassy in these situations should be to do everything in its power to hasten the dawn of freedom.

A Perfect Failure

Uzbekistan is undoubtedly one of the most vicious dictatorships on Earth. Freedom House ranks it as one of just five countries scoring a perfect 7 ‘ complete lack of freedom ‘ on both political rights and civil liberties. The Heritage Foundation’s view of economic freedoms there is similarly critical. In short, Uzbekistan does not follow the Southeast Asian model of an authoritarian government overseeing a free economy and rapid economic development. It is more akin to North Korea than to Singapore. Soviet institutions have been strengthened and corruption even increased. Only the iconography switched, from communism to nationalism.

Yet Uzbekistan was embraced as a Western ally following the 9/11 attacks, a member of the ‘Coalition of the Willing.’ In 2002 alone the U.S. taxpayer gave the Uzbek regime over $500 million, of which $120 million went to the armed forces, and $82 million direct to arguably the world’s most vicious security services. Also during that year, according to impeccable British government pathology evidence, at least one Uzbek dissident was boiled alive. The U.S. taxpayer paid to heat the water.


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The Mysterious Islamic Jihad Union

The three alleged “terrorists” arrested in Germany, aimed to blow up US military airports, civil airports, bars, discos and other targets, according to the German authorities, motivated by a fanatical hatred of the United States.

They have been identified as coming from the “Islamic Jihad Union”, an alleged offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. This organisation was first heard of in intelligence passed by the Uzbek intelligence services to the United States during alleged “Terror attacks” in Tashkent in spring 2004. Those attacks were in fact largely fake and almost certainly the work of the Uzbek security services, from my investigations on the spot at the time. These are detailed in pages 325 to 339 of Murder in Samarkand. These “attacks” were followed by the arrest of many hundred people in Tashkent, largely those with a little money and a Western lifestyle. From the torture chambers, hundreds confessed to membership of the Islamic Jihad Union. The United States, still an ally of Uzbekistan at that time, was keen to accept the narrative and moved succesfully to place the Islamic Jihad Union on the United Nations list of terrorist organisations.


In fact there was no evidence of the existence of this organisation other than that given by the Uzbek Security Services. There are, for example, no communications intercepts between senior terrorists referring to themselves as the Islamic Jihad Union.

Germany houses the biggest concentration of exiled Uzbek dissidents in the West, and in May of 2004 the Uzbek security services were already passing on alleged intelligence about attacks by the Islamic Jihad Union on US targets in Germany. Peculiarly, newspaper stories about these IJU plots in Germany have been surfacing regularly for the last two years, ahead of the recent arrests.

Germany is of course now Uzbekistan’s major ally in the West. Germany has an airbase in Uzbekistan and still has very close security service coopertation with Uzbekistan. Germany has been pushing hard within the EU for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Uzbekistan following the massacre bu the Uzbek armed forces of at least 700 demonstrators at Andijan in May 2005. Germany’s close relationship with Uzbekistan is based on the interests of Gazprom and its $8 billion Nordstream Russian/German joint venture for a Baltic pipeline to bring Russian and Uzbek gas to Germany. This was orchestrated by Gerhard Schroeder, now Chairman of Nordstream, and Alisher Usmanov, chairman of Gazprom Investholdings.


Germany therefore remains very open to the Uzbek security service agenda. It is in the light of these interests that the story being given about the latest arrests should be considered. There are some peculiar points about it: why are the German authorities connecting a Turk and two ethnic Germans, who allegedly trained in Pakistan, to an obscure and possibly non-existent Uzbek group?

I should make plain that regrettably it is a fact that there are those who commit violence, motivated by a fanatic version of their faith. Sadly the appalling aggression of US and allied war policy has made such reaction much more frequent. These men may or may not have been planning to commit explosions. But if they were, the question is who was really pulling their strings, and why?

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The Women at the Tomb


Nadira playing Magdalene in The Women at the Tomb

Nadira is playing at the moment in a fringe production of The Women at the Tomb by Michael De Ghelderode, at the Lion and Unicorn theatre (above the pub) at 42 Gaisford St, Kentish Town, NW5. The play runs till 16 September if you want to go along and see it.

Details here:


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