Billionaire blogger: why Usmanov decided to fight Navalny on his field

Billionaire Alisher Usmanov responded to Alexey Navalny's investigation in a manner quite unexpected for himself and other high-ranking involvants of FBK's investigation: the video blog format. "First Channel Generation" begins to understand that the Internet has become a significant information platform, which can not be ignored, experts say.
Origin source
"You would apologize and live peacefully"

Founder of USM Holdings Alisher Usmanov on Thursday, May 18, posted on his page in "VKontakte" video-appeal to the politician Alexei Navalny. The source of RBC surrounded by the billionaire said that the appeal was recorded on the Usmanov yacht Dilbar on the iPhone 7 Plus, mounted on a tripod. The yacht is located off the coast of France in the Mediterranean Sea according to the tracker Marinetraffic.

In the video, the businessman responded to the conclusions made in the March film "He is not your Dymon" of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). The investigation alleged that Usmanov financially supported - in particular, gave the house and lands - the Fund for Support of Socially Significant State Projects, which FBK associated with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

"Lesh, you, please, apologize, stop pulling out the disparate facts from the context. You would apologize and live peacefully. Your attempts to deceive me - barking Moska on an elephant. Ugh to you, Alexey Navalny, "Usmanov said in his video. He called the accusations of FBK an attempt to slander Russian business.

The FBK investigation referred to Usmanov's conviction in Uzbekistan for rape and extortion. But the billionaire in his clip reminded that he was rehabilitated by the Supreme Court of Russia, and said that of them the "real criminal" is Navalny himself, convicted in the Kirovles case. Usmanov drew attention to other facts from the biography of the oppositionist. "You're lying that I did not create jobs. You're just an ignoramus, because in ten years of my leadership, 40,000 jobs were created, "the businessman added.

Bulk soon recorded a response video. "Thanks to our activity, the video blogger was none other than Alisher Usmanov. He wrote down an appeal in which he claims that he is the most honest person in the world, "the politician said. The oppositionist promised that his response to Usmanov's claims would be "more convincing" than the statements of the billionaire.

By the evening Navalny stated in his program that he would not apologize to Usmanov, and all the facts from his investigation corresponded to reality. "I looked at this video and was just surprised: it's whether the nineties have returned, or a parody of the nineties, but the person is seriously sitting," - said Navalny. According to the politician, Usmanov's video was recorded and published by order of the Kremlin or Medvedev to "displace the discussion." Navalny stressed that he considers the businessman "a harmful person who does not bring anything useful" and confirmed that Usmanov's video was recorded on a yacht worth € 400 million.

"I perceive this treatment as a threat," the politician concluded. Next week, his team will issue a video response to Usmanov's video. He pointed out that he was not afraid to come to a possible debate with Alisher Usmanov and was ready to organize them in the FBK office.


In the history of the social and media dispute between Usmanov and Navalny, the content and format is the most interesting, Denis Terekhov, managing partner of SNMG, noted. "The sensation that the relations are being clarified are not a businessman and a politician, but a blogger and a blogger. I would even say rapper and rapper. Because, in fact, the comments under the videos, and the form of communication of opponents - this is more like a rap battle in the club than a dialogue newsmakers, "- he argues.

From the point of view of statistics Usmanov as videobloger-debutant made convincing. The total number of views of all the videos (with reposts) with the appeal of Alisher Usmanov on YouTube, "VKontakte" and Facebook at 18:00 Moscow time was 1.22 million, calculated by the request of RBC agency SNMG. Another 560 thousand views - the video, which are accompanied by a commentary by Alexei Navalny about the forthcoming response to the billionaire. Approximately 45 thousand views of 50 videos that are created as a parody of Usmanov's treatment (for example, with the integration of scenes from famous movies or simply with processing). Of the approximately 50,000 comments that accompany the video, about 40% have all the signs in support of Navalny, another 20% - in support of Usmanov, the remaining comments were not taken into account because of their possible falsification (bots, inactive accounts, etc.).

For comparison: the investigation "He's not Dimon" for two months on YouTube has collected 21 million views (7.2 million for the first week).

Director of the Information Democracy Foundation, ex-Deputy Minister of Communications Ilya Massukh says that high-ranking Russians recorded videoblogs before. For example, much earlier Usmanov it began to do Dmitry Medvedev. However, the fundamental difference between the story and Usmanov's video is that this is the first time that the FBK investigator has given such a detailed answer to him, and even in the video format. "And this is certainly much more interesting than the short answer of Medvedev himself [who called the FBK investigation" compote "]," Yuri Degtyarev, creator of the studios My Duck's Vision and "Thank You, Eva", said to RBC. These studios produced a number of pro-government virus videos before the election.

The fact that the billionaire "did not write an open letter and did not go to the interview with Vladimir Pozner", but recorded the video - a new and promising trend in Russian politics, Degtyarev said. "It is clear from this that further the whole policy will develop in the manner of the series, and the series, which different TV channels make," he noted.

"In our opinion, this video should be perceived in the context of the general trend of the Kremlin aimed towards the Internet," the spokesman for Navalny Kira Yarmysh agrees. - Obviously, the authorities need to confirm their presence on the Internet, hence all the videos about "Navalny-Hitler", clips of Alisa Voks, and now also video response of Usmanov. "

New platforms are becoming more and more customary for the audience - American and European politicians win elections using these platforms, says deputy head of the Department of Journalism at Moscow State University Galina Schepilova. "The further, the more will have to go to foreign fields, already occupied by others. Where else can I post my video? It does not depend on the generation - just if you want to work with the audience, then you need to switch to social networks and YouTube, "she argues.

The question is whether the "generation" of the "First Channel" is ready to play on a new, hostile field.

Controversial format

Usmanov's representatives refused to explain why the option of the video blog was chosen for discussion with Navalny. The court session on the lawsuit against Navalny was chosen as an information reason for the release of the video, a representative of the businessman told RBC. April 11 Usmanov said that this film is defaming his honor and dignity, later representatives of the billionaire filed a defamation lawsuit against Navalny and FBK in the Lublin District Court in Moscow. The hearing on the merits is scheduled for May 30.

"Usmanov is one of the few people who is ready, in fact, to answer the questions posed by Navalny and show the public that Navalny is lying or lying about a lot," he said.

A federal official told RBC that unlike the lawsuit against Navalny, which Usmanov agreed with the Kremlin, and "most likely with the Prime Minister," his video message was not coordinated with anyone. Usmanov long wanted to sue Navalny, but he was always dissuaded. Why the claim was still at this time, the source does not know.

Political scientist Mikhail Vinogradov sees the advantages of the video-format format: it allows you to formulate questions yourself and directly address them to your opponent.

"The nuclear audience of Navalny will remain on his side, trying to convince them is pointless. But for the vacillating part of the audience the move is quite strong. In any case, Usmanov scored points, acting like a man on the enemy's field, "argues the chairman of the board of directors of the communications agency" R.I.M. Porter Novel »Igor Pisarsky. In his opinion, Usmanov's addressee can be also the authorities, for example, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, with whom the businessman may have stated his speech in advance.

"We can position this both as an" appeal to wavering oppositionists, "and" demonstration of toughness and swagger toward Navalny "- depending on what turns out to be more successful, - Vinogradov argues. "There is an opinion that the most important addressees of the appeal - Medvedev and Navalny - are susceptible to this format."

Usmanov's appeal to Navalny could be a delicate calculation of the Kremlin in order to lower the opposition's rating, which has long overcome the threshold of recognizability, political analyst Abbas Gallamiov said. "Now Navalny needs informational guides of the proper quality, conflicts with Putin or at least Medvedev. Any other conflict belittles his status, "he explained. The authorities benefit from the fact that from the "enemy of Putin" Navalny turned into "enemy of Usmanov", and therefore one can assume that the billionaire made a video message at the request of the Kremlin, the expert says.

However, despite the statistics of the video views, not all experts believe this idea to be correct. An expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center, Andrei Kolesnikov, rated it as "a serious PR failure." Usmanov looks very inorganic, because video clips are usually written by people more modern looking, "- said the expert. In his opinion, a businessman looks in the frame "as a corporation person who tries to seem simple and accessible". Kolesnikov noted the image imbalance in Usmanov's video: "The background itself is inorganic and official, and clothes, on the contrary, are excessively frivolous. He should have put on a shirt with a long sleeve. Even how it costs a glass, stands, a notebook with a pen in front of him, it all looks very much like an official meeting somewhere in the Kremlin. "

"From the point of view of political PR - this is a mistake", - agrees the head of the fund "Minchenko consulting" Yevgeny Minchenko. "Usmanov for his popularity for some reason" pumped "Navalny, - explains his point of view. - It can be seen that the billionaire is sincerely offended by Navalny, he "got sick", but this "is not a reason to give points to the opposition politician, for whom a public appeal from a person of this level is a real gift."

"Generation" First Channel "understands that the Internet is important, but it's hard for them to work with this environment, political scientist Nikolai Mironov concludes.

RBC expects FBK's response to new data from Usmanov.

As Usmanov replied to Navalny

In his video, Usmanov refutes Navalny's statement that he was convicted of rape, in his words, in fact the verdict was passed for "stealing socialist property", and later he was rehabilitated.

The businessman also claims that he bought Mikhailovsky GOK shares and other metallurgical enterprises for his own and borrowed funds, and not for free, according to the oppositionist. Usmanov refutes allegations of tax evasion in Russia, pointing out that only in 2016 he paid 2.7 billion rubles. Taxes, and over the past ten years - about $ 500 million taxes.

RBC got acquainted with the documents confirming the words of the businessman. For example, in 1980 the military tribunal of Uzbekistan sentenced him to eight years of imprisonment (of which he served six) on economic articles - fraud and complicity in taking bribes. But 20 years later, in 2000, Usmanov was rehabilitated.

"The Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan informs that the verdict of the Military Tribunal of the Turkestan Military District of August 19, 1980, against you on May 3, 2000 was canceled and the case was dismissed for rehabilitating reasons," Ubaidulla Mingbayev, Chairman of the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan, said in the letter to Usmanov.

The businessman sent the last tax return on April 20, 2017, it states that he transferred 2.74 billion rubles for 2016. Taxes.

The FBK investigation also said that in 2010 Usmanov donated to the Foundation for Support of Socially Significant State Projects allegedly affiliated with then-President Dmitry Medvedev (his supervisory board is headed by Medvedev's classmate, Ilya Yeliseyev), a house and 4.3 hectares of land in the Znamenskoe settlement near Moscow Worth about 5 billion rubles. In fact, this was a bribe to Medvedev, the investigation said. But in his video, Usmanov denied this, saying that the donation to the fund was only part of a more complicated transaction, as a result of which he expanded his holdings on the Rublyovskoye highway, obtaining in turn a 12 hectare plot.

Lack of evidence base in the FBK material is likely to become the basis for satisfying Usmanov's claim, believes the lawyer of the "Fort" collegium Oleg Eliseev. But after the publication of FBK's investigation, law enforcement agencies had to check the deal with Usmanov's participation in the corruption component, notes Anton Pominov, head of the Russian branch of the anti-corruption organization Transparency International.