All of a sudden James Dolan and Donald Sterling don’t seem all that bad. From the Guardian’s Ian “I Hate Myself & Want To Die” Cobain.
The Uzbek-born billionaire who has bought almost a quarter of Arsenal FC, Alisher Usmanov, a Moscow-based steel and mining magnate, has denied that he was ever convicted of rape and dismissed suggestions that he was connected with the death of a Russian journalist whose body was found at the foot of an apartment block earlier this year. He also talked of his relationship with a man alleged to be a major drug trafficker and was frank about his connections with a number of former KGB officers.
Usmanov, 54, spent six years in jail in the 80s for embezzlement and fraud, although his convictions were overturned on appeal. Some sections of the Russian media have alleged he was also convicted of rape, a claim repeated on several websites after he purchased his first tranche of Arsenal shares 10 weeks ago.
In his email exchange, Usmanov (above) protested: “All the charges in my case were fabricated. I will give you a copy of the verdict if you need to know what were the crimes I was charged with and you’ll see that rape is not one of them. This is a mean lie spread by small-minded people naive to think that I was their competitor.”
He also addressed an insinuation made by an MEP during a debate in the European parliament that he was in some way connected to the death of a Russian journalist, Ivan Safronov, whose body was found at a Moscow apartment block last March.
“The Safronov allegation is a startling and unbelievable insinuation with no basis in truth, as are the other allegations that have been made of me,” he said. “I consider any insinuation on this as an untruth of a highly provocative nature. I take this matter very seriously and I only wish I had time to bring to court all those who propagate this wicked and false story. I insist that this should be treated seriously, with clear understanding that reprinting and spinning the slander is slander as well.”
Asked about his relationship with Gafur Rakhimov, a man who has been named as an Uzbek mafia boss and who was once banned from entering Australia because of his alleged connections to organised crime, Usmanov said: “I only knew him since he was a neighbour of my parents. I have never had, nor do I have, any business dealings with him.”