24 February 2023

Alisher Usmanov: “I will do my best to be useful to Uzbekistan”

The founder of the USM holding, Alisher Usmanov, in an interview with the Italian TV channel TGcom24, said that he intends to continue work and charitable projects in Uzbekistan, despite the difficulties associated with sanctions in their implementation. “I will do my best to help Uzbekistan and be useful to my country.”

The founder and largest shareholder of the USM holding, a Russian entrepreneur of Uzbek origin, Alisher Usmanov, gave an interview to journalists of the Italian TV channel TGcom24 in Tashkent, Spot reports.

The billionaire noted the “colossal restructuring” of the economy of Uzbekistan in recent years, noting the “birth in 2016 of New Uzbekistan.” He described the period since 2016 as “a sign of hope for a great future.”

During this time, USM business structures have invested in their core areas – telecommunications and the technology sector. Alisher Usmanov said that he intends to continue work and charitable projects in Uzbekistan, despite the difficulties associated with the sanctions in their implementation.

“I will put all my strength and resources to help Uzbekistan and be useful to my country. This is my great goal, for the sake of which I left the management of corporate assets and even stopped participating in many of my projects as a shareholder, ”said the businessman.

The entrepreneur believes that Uzbekistan, together with Kazakhstan, will become “the real leader of Central Asia” and “the locomotive for the development of this region.” “And I am convinced that this country will succeed,” he said.

Alisher Usmanov does not agree that the European Union classifies him among the oligarchs. He believes that those who made such a decision “demonstrated their complete ignorance.” In his opinion, the oligarchs “make money with the help of the authorities” and “use it to influence the government”, while he “did not receive gifts from the authorities” and acquired all the assets “under market conditions”.

“The oligarchs are those people who, having taken advantage of the first stage in the development of capital in Russia, received huge resources almost for free. I bought everything on a competitive basis,” he said.

Despite the presence of Russian citizenship and assets in Russia, Usmanov stressed that he “lives in the interests” of Uzbekistan.

Alisher Usmanov noted that the EU calls him “not just an oligarch, but the favorite oligarch of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” He stressed that he had never had such connections in his 35 years of living in the Russian Federation.

The billionaire also spoke about Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“As for the impressions of the war, like everyone else, at first it was a shock. How not to be shocked by what is happening? In the 21st century, war will not benefit anyone… But that’s none of my business, I’m not a politician, I don’t want to be in politics. And, perhaps, that is why I believe that any conflict should end peacefully and, most importantly, without casualties. This is how I personally feel about it,” he said.

The USM group, founded by Alisher Usmanov, includes Metalloinvest, Udokan Copper and MegaFon. He ranks seventh on the list of the richest Russians according to Forbes with a fortune of $11.5 billion.

Since February 2022, the businessman has been under EU sanctions, the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Japan have also imposed sanctions against him. He is trying to challenge European sanctions in a court of general jurisdiction.

In January, Alisher Usmanov asked to be expelled from the board of directors of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. According to RBC, he “decided to retire from active work in connection with his retirement.”

According to foreign media, the Uzbek authorities asked the EU to lift sanctions, since “restrictions prevent an entrepreneur from investing in the country’s economy.” Spiegel wrote that Germany’s investigation into Alisher Usmanov aggravated the country’s diplomatic relations with Uzbekistan.

In Uzbekistan, Usmanov finances the construction of the Center for Islamic Civilization in Tashkent, supports projects to preserve cultural heritage, including the regeneration of modernist architecture. Russian companies associated with it acquired shares in Akhangarancement, Tashkent Metallurgical Plant, Ucell and others, and also participates in the Asl belgisi product labeling and tracking monitoring system.