I am proud that I know Putin, and the fact that everybody does not like him is not Putin's problem. I don't think the world loved Truman after Nagasaki.
Usmanov was born in Uzbekistan in the provincial town of Chust, but spent his childhood in the capital Tashkent where his Father was a state prosecutor. Planning to pursue a career of a diplomat, he later moved to Moscow and joined Moscow State Institute of International Relations from which he graduated in 1976 with a degree in international law.
He was arrested and convicted on charges of fraud and 'theft of socialist property' in Uzbek SSR in August 1980 and imprisoned for six years of an eight-year sentence. This conviction was vacated in July 2000, 11 years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, by the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan, when it ruled that "the original conviction was unjust, no crime was ever committed, and that the evidence was fabricated." There are also allegations - according to former British ambassador to Uzbekistan - that he was additionally convicted of rape in the same year. However, the Uzbek government had refuted such conviction ever taking place.
Usmanov worked as the Deputy General Director of Intercross JSC from 1990 to 1994, and from 1994 to 1998, he headed Interfin Interbank Investment and Finance Company. He also acted as an Adviser to the General Director of Moscow Aviation Industrial Enterprise from 1994 to 1995, and served as the First Deputy Chairman of MAPO-Bank from 1995 to 1997.
Usmanov, who is Muslim, married Jewish Irina Viner, a top rhythmic gymnastics coach, in 1992. Viner is considered to be close to Putin, having introduced him to former rhythmic Gymnast Alina Kabaeva. Usmanov attended the Academy of Finance to study banking beginning in 1997. Although Usmanov has no biological children, through his wife Irina Viner, Usmanov has a step-son, who has become a real-estate investor, currently constructing 30 real estate projects.
Usmanov has been credited with the successful design and implementation of Gazprom's strategy for recovering assets and shares. In 18 months, between 2002 and 2003, he had effectively secured the state control of Gazprom and reversed a decade of asset stripping.
According to presidential decree No. 365 of 17 March 2004, Usmanov was awarded with a Medal of Honor of Russia. In 2011, Usmanov received the Order of Friendship of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 2013, he was awarded the Order for Service to the Fatherland IV class in recognition of his services to the state, as well as his community and charitable activities. In the same year, he was awarded a medal 'For contribution to international cooperation' by the Foreign Ministry of Russia. In 2014, Usmanov received the Order of Alexander Nevsky for his community and charitable activities.
In 2005, The International Charity Fund for the Future of Fencing was founded by Alisher Usmanov. The mission of the Charity Fund is to facilitate the international popularization of fencing and to raise it to a higher level worldwide.
In August 2006, Usmanov began to invest in media. He bought Kommersant, a newspaper formerly owned by Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. The deal was finalised at US$200 million. Usmanov also made a $25 million purchase of a 50-percent stake in Russian Sports TV channel 7TV in November 2006 and bought 75 percent of Russian TV music channel MUZ-TV for $300 million in June 2007. Usmanov is currently a co-owner of the media holding company UTH, which holds 51% of Disney Russia and 100% of Muz TV and U television channels.
On 2 September 2007, Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan referred to Alisher Usmanov's Criminal conviction, claiming that Usmanov "was in no sense a political prisoner, but a gangster and racketeer who rightly did six years in jail" and his pardon was the work of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov on the instructions of Uzbekistani power broker and alleged drug trafficker Gafur Rakhimov. The article was subsequently removed by Murray's web host, allegedly under pressure from Usmanov's legal team, London's Schillings law firm. However, what followed was that Schillings contacted independent blogs and websites warning them to remove any references to Murray's allegations, and any reproduction of the blog posting. UK Indymedia reported that they were one of the sites that had been issued with a take down notice on 10 September 2007 and again on 21 September. On 20 September 2007, Bloggerheads.com, the weblog of Tim Ireland, was taken down for reproducing Murray's article, incidentally causing the loss of other blogs belonging to the MP Boris Johnson, councillor Bob Piper and Clive Summerfield – none of which themselves had reproduced the article.
Red and White Holdings confirmed on 28 February 2008 that it was the club's largest shareholder and the company said it "has the necessary funding to increase its stake further [but] it has no current intention to make a full takeover bid for Arsenal for six months." If the stake were to reach 30 percent, Red and White Holdings would have to launch a formal takeover. Usmanov said he had been an Arsenal fan for seven years and he had a great love for Arsenal.
Charity Fund "Art, Science and Sport" founded by Alisher Usmanov is in close cooperation with London's Tate Britain. Together they carried out several projects in Russia such as the Turner exhibition in 2009 and the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition in 2013.
On 12 December 2011, following the 2011 Russian protests regarding vote-rigging in parliamentary elections, the weekly Kommersant Vlast magazine ran an unflattering issue on Vladimir Putin titled "Victory of United ballot-stuffers" – a pun on Putin's United Russia party. Usmanov sacked the Editor, Maxim Kovalsky, and the head of the publisher's holding company, Andrei Galiyev, saying there had been an "ethical breach" and that the issue "bordered on petty hooliganism". The controversy surrounded an image of a ballot paper from the parliamentary vote with the words "Putin, go fuck yourself" scrawled in red ink. The caption read: "A correctly filled out ballot recognized as invalid." Demyan Kudryavtsev, the head of the Kommersant publishing house, assumed responsibility by resigning, stating in a blog post that the magazine issue had been "in violation of internal procedures, professional journalistic standards and the Russian law".
On 12 November 2012, the British newspaper The Times reported that Usmanov had hired a London-based PR firm, RLM Finsbury, that edited Usmanov's article on the online encyclopedia English Wikipedia to remove information on Usmanov's Criminal convictions and later controversies surrounding their client. The discovery caused significant backlash among the PR professionals in the UK, with the CEO of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations stressing that "public relations professionals should not directly edit Wikipedia for a client or employer". The PR firm acknowledged their actions and stated that they had acted without the authorisation of their client. The information was said to have been removed in expectation of the stock market listing of MegaFon, which is controlled by Usmanov. As of January 2015, the original Times article has been removed from the newspaper's website, its publicly accessible archives, and Google search.
According to The Sunday Times Giving List 2013, Usmanov was one of the most significant Philanthropists, having donated £112.6 million in the preceding twelve months.
On 4 December 2014, Usmanov paid $4.8m for Dr James Watson's Nobel Prize Medal in Physiology or Medicine, which was auctioned at Christie's in New York City. Watson was selling his prize to raise money to support scientific research. After auctions fees, Watson received $4.1m. Usmanov subsequently returned the medal to Watson, stating "in my opinion, a situation in which an outstanding scientist sells a medal recognizing his achievements is unacceptable. Watson's work contributed to cancer research, the illness from which my Father died. It is important for me that the money that I spent on this medal will go to supporting scientific research, and the medal will stay with the person who deserved it."
In November 2015, USM invested $100 million USD in competitive video game esports team Virtus Pro.
In January 2017, Usmanov's holding company, USM, entered into a five-year, $15 million+ deal with Everton F.C. for the naming rights of the club's training ground, Finch Farm. Usmanov's accountant and partner in USM holdings is Farhad Moshiri, the current majority shareholder of Everton, and former co-owner of Usmanov's Arsenal shares, Red and White holdings.