MPs urge sanctions against Russians involved in English football

Thursday, 28 January, 2021 28comments  |  Jump to last
Two opposition Members of Parliament have called on the Government to take action against Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov, two figures with alleged ties to Vladimir Putin's regime in Russia.

Labour MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, and the Liberal Democrats' foreign affairs spokesperson, Layla Moran, expressed concern that the UK is not offering sufficient support to dissident Alexei Navalny who is back in prison following his return to Russia from exile in Germany.

Navalny, the most visible challenger to Putin's autocratic reign, has called for sanctions against Abramovich, who owns Chelsea, and Usmanov, who has ties with Everton through his business partner and majority shareholder at Goodison Park, Farhad Moshiri.

Moshiri owns economic interests in USM Holdings with Usmanov, the Uzbek billionaire, and the firm is now a major club sponsor, with USM's name on the club's Finch Farm training complex and subsidiary MegaFon a sponsor at Goodison Park and of the Everton Women's team.

An associate of Navalny has drawn up a list of eight people whom he says should face sanctions in order to put pressure on Putin and the Government has called on Russia to release the dissident, who was poisoned last year, a charge that Putin's regime rejects.

The individuals on the list were described as being among "key enablers and beneficiaries of Russian kleptocracy, with significant ties/assets in the West" and according to the BBC, Boris Johnson's administration have said they are "considering all options for further action" which could include moves against Russian oligarchs with high-profile presence in Britain.


Reader Comments (28)

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Hugh Jenkins
1 Posted 28/01/2021 at 21:09:29
Ever since Trump came to power in the USA the western world has been bleating about Russian interference in our politics and electoral system.
I believe in democracy and abhor any sort of police state - but - how can we complain about Russian interference in our political system when we have MP's calling for these types of sanctions?
John Raftery
2 Posted 28/01/2021 at 23:05:47
It was only a matter of time before this came to the fore. I doubt it will go away while Navalny is locked up.
Mick Davies
3 Posted 28/01/2021 at 23:28:40
Margaret Hodge is one of the most powerful people in Britain. She even managed to conduct a silent coup, by influencing the decision of a 'democratic' General Election: in favour of the party she was meant to be fighting against!! Her past record surely makes her the least likely candidate for such a crusade:

"In 2015 there was considerable controversy about her benefiting, to the tune of £1.5 million from assets repatriated from a Lichtenstein trust in 2011 using the Liechtenstein disclosure facility, that reduced penalties and removed the risk of prosecution for Britons moving undeclared assets back to the UK. Coverage focused on the apparent hypocrisy in her condemnation of the use of tax havens" also, Stemcor, the family firm, have an office in Moscow. ... strange people these capitalists.

Si Cooper
4 Posted 28/01/2021 at 23:38:41
Hugh, there is no equivalence in your argument. On the one hand is a highly dangerous dictator with a very firm grip on power (democracy is twisted to give him the results he wants) who is happy to secretively undermine all governments who may eventually expose (or oppose) him for what he really is, versus genuinely democratically elected politicians who want to use what power they have to put pressure on a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Paul Birmingham
5 Posted 28/01/2021 at 23:42:57
This will be at best a long, thaw, until, Navalny is freed, but let’s hope Everton, are not impacted by any actions, by the UK, parliament.
Bob Parrington
6 Posted 29/01/2021 at 06:19:06
Surely, when it comes to Hodge, this is a case of the Pot calling the Kettle.

On the lighter side, does she support or have any shares in an EPL club?

Tony Everan
7 Posted 29/01/2021 at 08:23:31
It’s a hell of a battle to get our stadium built. It’s like their are dark forces trying to prevent it at every turn. The planning application has been stuck in the system for months for a seemingly totally insignificant point in the scheme of things. Would that have happened on your average multi billion pound initiative that massively boosts a local economy ? Now the possible financial support for the build is under attack. Is this all coincidental? Or am I just deluded?

Of course Navalny needs to be free and have freedom to oppose Putin. But there’s probably many other maligned investors in the UK economy and UK assets who have dubious backgrounds and dubious sources of their money. Their money seems to be fine and beyond criticism for some reason. I bet you don’t have to dig very far to get to rank hypocrisy.

Hugh Jenkins
8 Posted 29/01/2021 at 08:25:35
Si (4) - LOL - Let me make the world in my image. As I said, I firmly believe in democracy and abhor any police state. My point is, in 1917 the Russian people rose against the Tsar. the popular revolt was then hijacked by the Bolsheviks, who, one way or another, have held power ever since.

It is up to the Russian people to change this again - if they really want to - and a focal point for that seems to be the chap that has just returned to Russia and has been imprisoned.

It is not up to us in the west, to tell the people of Russia how to grasp democracy, anymore than it is up to Russia to try to influence our politics.

If the people of Russia want change, it will come - if they don't then it won't.

It certainly won't come because a discredited UK politician wants to sequester the assets of some 'friends" of Putin's.

Since voting for Brexit, the little old UK is going to need all the investment help it can get and threatening to sequester the assets of foreign billionaires who are making their home in the UK, is not the best way to attract inward investment.

Laurie Hartley
9 Posted 29/01/2021 at 09:34:14
Tony # 7 - “Their money seems to be fine and beyond criticism for some reason. I bet you don’t have to dig very far to get to rank hypocrisy.”

I think you are probably right.

Personally I think the real bogeyman is to the right of Russia on the map of the world.

Fortunately here in Australia our current government appears to have recognised the threat.

Chinese Investment in Australia

Alan J Thompson
10 Posted 29/01/2021 at 09:52:36
Strange, or hypocritical, the way western governments object to the way Navalny is treated but when it comes to the American military murdering civilians they go for the man who leaked it to the world, even his own government abandoning him while others collude to have him extradited, two wrongs make how many rights?
How long has it been now for Julian Assange?
Tony Abrahams
11 Posted 29/01/2021 at 10:01:58
Alan J, every time I watch a narco documentary, I shudder at the Americans playing little boy soldiers, when they eventually lock the bad guy up!
Don Wright
12 Posted 29/01/2021 at 10:09:49
Not being funny here or political correct but if Navalny had not gone back to Russia he would not have been arrested and we would not have the threat of our money drying up. you piss Putin off you pay the price more importantly we might pay the price.
Andrew Ellams
13 Posted 29/01/2021 at 10:28:33
Don are you serious? The man is maybe the only meaningful opposition to a gangster running a very powerful nation as a dictator and you think he should just mind his own business because Putin won't like it and it might impact Everton?
Tony Shelby
14 Posted 29/01/2021 at 10:35:14

Come on lads, we need to be honest with ourselves!

If most of us look deep into our souls we wouldn't want our club to be funded by a shady Russian who has close connections with Putin's authoritarian regime.

How do we know he does? Well he hasn't been poisoned by GRU agents yet so it's pretty much fucking nailed on, isn't it!?

This is the problem with insidiousness. It started with Abramovich, who isn't even allowed to work in the UK any longer. We all knew what he was but over time got used to a young billionaire - the man, by the way, who first recommended Putin for the position he has now held in some form for over 20 years - owning a Premier League club.

In turn many of us became more than a little jealous of the likes of Chelsea and, along the way, forgot a few important things about ourselves and what we really believe in.

The Premier League is a microcosm of the wider world and that same insidiousness has seen most countries shift to the right politically as the things we once abhorred got repackaged and presented to us in ways that made them seem more appealing.

Let's get a fucking grip!

Yes I want Everton to be successful but not with blood on our hands. And who cares if everyone else is doing it. At some point the shit will hit the fan and clubs that rely on such money will be screwed. That or we'll also become a right-wing dictatorship.

Either way, taking money from the likes of Usmanov leads to a shitty outcome, whatever the short-term gains.

Anyway, let's twat the living fuck out of Newcastle tomorrow and help give that fat fucker Bruce his marching orders!


Brian Harrison
15 Posted 29/01/2021 at 10:37:18
These are allegations by Navalny that Abramovich and Usmanov were or are enablers for Putin, as yet no evidence just allegations, so yes by all means investigate but before calling for action provide some evidence first.

I will be very interested to hear the response from some leading Tories if this ever makes the floor of the House of Commons, as 14 Ministers in this Government have received donations from individuals and Companies linked to Russia. Rishi Sunak our Chancellor and our Business Secretary Alok Sharma are 2 of the beneficiaries of Russian money. Also I wonder if Hodge will demand the same investigation into Lubov Chernukhan the wife of a minister in the Putin Government who has personally donated huge sums to the Conservative party. Also Alexander Temerko another linked to Putin who has also donated tens of thousands to the Conservative party. These are known facts not just allegations, so why has Hodge not demanded these be included as well.

Seems we have selected memories in this Country, when Jamal Koshoggi was murdered in the Saudi Embassy on the orders of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, why didnt we stop supplying arms to them. Well were money is concerned seems principles go out the window. Margaret Hodge being a Jewish lady has quite rightly fought anti semitism all her life and recently had to do so in her own Labour party which she deserves great credit. Just a pity I don't hear to much outrage from her regarding the Israeli government building new settlements on Palestinian land.

Don Wright
16 Posted 29/01/2021 at 10:46:40
Andrew I am not saying he should mind his own business but if he goes up against Putin he should do it from out side of Russia. going back into Russia is asking for trouble,you cant think that he honestly thought he would be untouchable a stupid move if the ever was one,would you go in the Cold Blow Lane stand at the Den and call them all a bunch of wankers no.
Gary Willock
17 Posted 29/01/2021 at 11:04:18
Dodgy government behaviour is evidence all over the world. China, Middle East, African nations, Eastern Europe and even here and in the US too.

Either investigate and ban them ALL or don’t.

It baffles me how in such PC times, Xenophobia against Russia is not only seen by the left as OK, but often used as a rally cry for publicity and support.

Andrew Ellams
18 Posted 29/01/2021 at 11:29:34
Gary, it's not xenophobia against Russia is it. It's support for one Russian man with actual balls to stand up against an army of corrupt gangsters willing to kill to maintain their grip on power.

It is scary though if you think opposing somebody like Putin is as some sort of weak trait of the left. He had the UK and US Government in the palm of his hands for some time now as well as funding the far right in France and Italy. Why wouldn't you oppose that? His aim is to weaken the west and make your life much the worse for it.

Fran Mitchell
19 Posted 29/01/2021 at 11:34:38
Interesting, but the general reaction to this explains a lot why these risible billionaires invest in football.

Of course it isn't limited to Russians. We see with Man City, saw with Newcastle, and plenty other examples.

We will gloss over clear and obvious evilness if we think it may pay for football.

The sooner all these billionaires are kicked out of football the better.

Micky Norman
20 Posted 29/01/2021 at 13:38:58
While the Tories put Baron Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia into the House ofLords and take shedloads of money from the Kensington Russians nothing will happen.
Stan Schofield
22 Posted 29/01/2021 at 15:52:11
Apparently Navalny considers that some people should face sanctions because they've stolen stuff, kleptocracy being when those in power nick stuff from ordinary people. OK, that's an accusation, but it means little unless there's firm evidence that would stand up in a court of law. In turn, the urging of MPs for such sanctions means little without such evidence.

It's one thing people making accusations, which is what dissidents tend to do, otherwise they wouldn't be dissidents, but quite another to provide evidence to support those accusations.

Prima facie, it looks about as solid as the stuff a couple of years ago about the Paradise Papers, mere chat in the absence of evidence of illegal activity.

Kieran Kinsella
23 Posted 29/01/2021 at 15:57:44
There won't be sanctions because firstly, it opens up a can of worms with other corrupt individuals and not just talking football there. The Tories are already anting to loosen regulation in the finance market to retain London's place as an international finance sector. If the government start clamping down on the likes of Roman, that would hamper the economy. Post Brexit, they are trying to get investment from anywhere they can. They might say the right things about the bad guys but in reality they will do as they always do -- hold their noses and let it carry on.
Stan Schofield
24 Posted 29/01/2021 at 16:42:54
Kieran@23: Many of them won't be holding their noses if they themselves are a tad smelly.

A few years ago some reds were going on that EFC should support LFC in boycotting The Sun. So I said, I'd support thst provided the entire Murdoch empire is boycotted by LFC, since that empire was the underlying cause of The Sun's activities, cultures always stemming from the top. That includes boycotting Sky and refusing their monies. They said don't be daft, that's where the money for the PL comes from. So I said, I see moral principles provided they're financially expedient.

Talk is cheap, but acting on principle is harder. Any sanctions against oligarchs would have to be very carefully formulated legally, otherwise massive cans of worms might be opened in otherwise apparently normal business dealings.

Alan J Thompson
25 Posted 30/01/2021 at 09:15:02
Wow! Abramovic and Usmanov contribute to and support a political party? Thank heavens businesses and unions in Britain don't do that sort of thing or receive anything in return for it.
All a matter of degree, I suppose.
Anyone for being a baronet? Never be accepted by anyone from the TUC or a Chairman doing what's right for his shareholders.
Tom Harvey
26 Posted 30/01/2021 at 20:54:18
That's our shiny new стадион (stadium) down the туалет (crapper)!
Si Cooper
27 Posted 31/01/2021 at 02:28:34
Hugh (8), lots of love to you too!

So we are not allowed to highlight abuse of power and corruption in other countries?? Not allowed to bring whatever pressure we can muster to an obvious evil unless we are pure as the driven snow???

Obviously you are too young to remember apartheid in South Africa and too (self-absorbed? Pissed?) to notice that you can actually voice support for whatever you like, despite what some keyboard warriors might think. It's called free speech.

Derek Thomas
28 Posted 31/01/2021 at 05:07:13
Alleged links to both Russia and Everton... 2 alleges in the one article no less... shouldn't they cancel each other out? Any 'we have reason to believes' or 'it could be saids' any of the other usual media weasel words and phrases get a mention? Not even vague, 'usually reliable source's?

So to sum up, none of those troublesome facts or proof then, not any? None at all? Just a rehash of old rumour, brought out under protection of parliamentary privilege as a stick to beat the Tories with.

As if the 100,000 deaths aren't stick enough then... but Labour don't want to go there, do they? It wouldn't be the done thing to be seen to rock the boat in times of national emergency, would it Sir Keir? — My dad was a toolmaker, you know; I've got cred and a labour-sounding name, me, Starmer!

Martin Mason
29 Posted 31/01/2021 at 21:13:01
We are a money laundering club. I want no part of it.

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