Mark Franchetti Fills His Stomach and Switches Off His Brain 10

Bloggerheads and others have already done great’work in exposing those journalists easily bought up by a billionaire’s favour and hospitality.

But crass Mark Franchetti wins the prize for rolling over in return for a chauffeured visit to a billionaire’s mansion and indulging in “a lunch of lamb stew and red wine served by the butler in one of his private dining rooms, a hall lined with gilded central Asian vases.” He then gives us a propaganda piece so cringeworthy as to be astonishing coming from a once great newspaper.

He approvingly quotes Usmanov’s crude attack on me:

Usmanov rejected the charges and threatened to sue Murray “if he can first prove that he is completely sane”.

Of course I have neither mansion nor butler to entertain the Franchettis of this world, so evidently I must be mad.

Franchetti then goes on to retail without analysis Usmanov’s ludicrous account of the circumstances of his conviction for fraud, corruption and theft of state property.

Usmanov says it was all beacuse of an attempt in 1980 by the Moscow KGB to stop his friend’s father becoming head of the Tashkent KGB. To stop the father the KGB cooked up an elaborate plot to get the son to accept a bribe, tricking him into thinking this was part of an intelligence operation. However the person paying the bribe gave it to Usmanov, because he knew that Usmanov was a friend of the person he wanted to bribe. So Usmanov accidentally in good faith accepted the brown envelope for his friend, who was being set up by the KGB to get at his father.

How is your Bullshit-meter reading? Some thoughts that did not occur to Mr Franchetti:

– This is 1980. Brezhnev is the President of a confident centralist Soviet state. If the Moscow KGB wanted rid of someone under Brezhnev, they would not have to cook up cock-eyed plots involving framing their son.

– Paying a bribe is a risky occupation. How likely is it that a smuggler would pay a bribe by giving the cash to a friend of the person they wished to bribe, and asking them to pass it on?

– The Brezhnev KGB were quite efficient. If they had cooked up this cock-eyed plot, they would have got the bribe to the right person.

Those are only a few of the improbabilities about the Usmanov story. Now I can understand that under the influence of Usmanov’s red wine Franchetti was having problems of discernment. But Franchetti cannot be defended in his dealing with the issue of the diassappearance of Usmanov’s criminal record.

Franchetti notes,

The convictions were later overturned by Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court, which ordered his police record to be expunged.

and Franchetti goes on to use the line:

Although he was fully absolved in 2000 and no longer has a criminal record,

In fact, being absolved by Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court means nothing whatsoever. Uzbekistan is a totalitarian state and has absolutely nil judicial independence. The conviction rate in Uzbek criminal cases is over 99%, which gives you an idea of how fair the trial procedures are. The internet is full of information about the legal, judicial and human rights situation in Uzbekistan, but this Human Rights Watch report might be a good start on judicial independence.

The Supreme Court of Uzbekistan receives its orders from President Karimov, arguably the most vicious dictator on earth and a friend of Alisher Usmanov. Karimov wiped out his criminal record for him. So how much you trust Usmanov comes down to how much you trust Karimov. Karimov’s state frequently tortures dissidents to death.

What makes Franchetti’s piece so disgusting is that he knows full well what the political situation in Uzbekistan is, and he knows full well that the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan has no independence and that a pardon from it for an oligarch has no meaning. It is simply that Franchetti chooses not to share this information with his readers, because the Times has decided to puff Usmanov. Mark Franchetti is no fool; he is rather a disgusting and unprincipled man and a disgrace to his profession. Amazing what some people will do if given the services of a chauffeur and a butler for an afternoon.

Meanwhile Usmanov is still too cowardly to sue me – and his excuses for avoiding the courts become feebler:

I won’t fall so low as to fight those who want to blacken my name.

Indeed – why have the truth tested before an honest jury, when you can just buy up cheap journalists instead?

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10 thoughts on “Mark Franchetti Fills His Stomach and Switches Off His Brain

  • Boss

    Dear Craig,

    Your quality of life ought not be affected by the unconscious drivelling of a hack earning a living as a stenographer for Murdoch, and enjoying the perks of his job, that is being being wined and dined by filthy rich convicted rapists, charlatans, and fraudsters.

    The fact that you should keep in mind is; who the heck reads any of the Murdoch rags, and takes any notice? The dwindling readerships of these rags, resulting in their ever diminishing consumers, with a proven penchant to be locked into a corrupt, and venal group think, that is on its way out, and so 2002.

    Hence, do not get annoyed or angry, further, examining the article from a different perspective, you could take delight in the simple fact that, the convict Usmanov is running desperate, and is prepared to break bread with a hack, enduring the excruciating indignity of spilling his little guts, in the hope of garnering a favourable view. This in effect proves, Convict Usmanov despite his wealth, and fortune, remains a little man in need of favours from other crooks, and hacks.

  • MilkMonitor

    Usmanov to Franchetti:

    "…I managed to stay true to myself. I stayed alive and remained an honest person."

    "If I'd really committed a crime, my father, as deputy prosecutor, was sufficiently influential to have spared me an eight-year sentence."

    How difficult it must be for a dishonest person to understand honesty.

  • ruth

    I find it strange that a paper so anti-Putin is so pro-Usmanov, when Usmanov is supposedly a friend of Putin. May be Usmanov is more a friend of the UK/USA/Israel and is biding his time trying to make himself look more respectable.

    I think two important questions are where the oligarchs got their start up money from and whether all their wealth is actually theirs.

  • oulwan

    Bravo, Craig. I hadn't read the Murdoch-type-sh*te, but you've nailed your reply to the wall and they'll no doubt read it. I hope you get what you want – your day in court.

    THAT would be worth a lot to see. If the filthy rich coward ever finds the guts to face it.

  • Trat Urug

    I didn't see anything wrong with Franchetti's piece. The only rebuttal you seem to have Craig is "The KGB were very very efficient in 1980", at a time that you were very young, still in University, so you rely upon secondary to tertiary information to base your views and opinions on.

    I think you've failed on this point.

  • 'holic

    gurU tarT, I am reliably informed by my father and thousands of his friends that Hitler was a bit of a cunt. Given that I was not around in the thirties and forties, but this information has been shared with me by people who experienced his worst excesses, would you say I have failed if I were to call Hitler a cunt?

  • The Sea Dreamer

    Could you perhaps put a grim smile on Mr.Orwell's lips, by drawing an analogy between your Usmanov and the McCanns, who, through their garrulous spokesman, are threatening to sue all sorts of newspapers here and abroad "at the appropriate stage". For all sorts of spurious reasons, I might add. On the other hand, if you are not 'into' the MCanns' implausible absurdities, better to stay away from them: you have your own dragons to slay, without diverting to tilt at windmills.

    Anyway, here's George again. He does so enjoy a brisk outing:

    "Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments…and of being bored and repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity."

  • Moses

    To: Mr Murray

    from: Moses

    subject: Alisher Usmonov

    Hi, my name is Muzaffar, i'm Uzbek and I have a comment on your views about ALisher Usmanov.

    Being a BSW(social work) student and most of all, a resident of Uzbekitan, I strongly disagree with most of your points since they're all biased and even fabricated, you don't seem to have any credible arguments or facts agains Mr Usmanov. NOW, Just think about it – the whole world is just like that, i mean everything is all about business, take the US 4xample; the war in Iraq is all about geopolitical influence and oil in the first place. And DO YOU KNOW that some of the HUGE US corporation leaders have always had ties with MAFIA, they still do, and will always influence US policies overseas, right. Chelsea for example, is now of the finest world clubs due to Russian investments. Every other UK resident wants to greet Mr. Abramamovich in person. As for our country however, we have had tremendous changes by now brought about by foreign investments and particularly due to Alisher Usmonov's policies. The situation is way better since the time you, SIR, were kicked out of this country because of your immoral behaviour with Uzbekistani prostitutes. how can you claim he is a criminal if you can't even prove his guilt, what you said above are just nothing but rumors.

    You, Mr. Murray, are the one to be refered to as criminal and charged with SEXUAL DEPRAVITY or even a harrasment since you were hanging out with underage non adult females at Tashkent nightclubs, namely SKY CLUB, while you were working as a British ambassador in Uzbekistan. You organized round table with bunch of idiots whose minds you could easily manipulate with your democracy propoganda and lost your job as a result. why don't you think broadly about Central Asia from now on. P.S. life never stays the same and people like Alisher Usmanov are the ones to make a REAL DIFFERENCE, but never people like you SIR !!!!

    Happy New year once again

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