Russian dough for BoJo

A secret report on the threats to UK democracy, whose release was blocked by Downing Street, includes many concerns relating to Russian conspiracy. In the report, it’s said that the Conservatives have been handed more than £5.67m in donations, £642,000 being received from Russian donors.

Oligarchs and wealthy people within business are at the heart of this influx of money to the party. Amongst these donors are influential individuals with close ties to Johnson such as Alexander Temerko who has worked for the Kremlin’s Defence Ministry and considers Johnson a close friend; he has gifted over £1.2m to the Tories in the past seven years. Johnson’s party also received £200,000 from the wife of the former Finance Minister under Vladimir Putin. Lubov Chernukhin previously paid £160,000 for a tennis match with Johnson and also gave £135,000 for a night out with the former Prime Minister, Theresa May. It seems such donors see more money in a match of tennis than most of us do in five years. Not only does it seem futile to believe these people want the best for you and me, but it also suggests what kind of person may favour another five years of Tory government. This is only solidified when compared to Labour’s donations of £218,500, mostly received from people within the party and not a plethora of business tyrants and Russian delegates.

One donation came as Johnson refused to publish a report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee about potential Russian interference in recent UK elections. The report was blocked due to Johnson’s fears that the information would damage his chances of winning the election on December 12, and fearful he should be.

Alarmingly, the committee also heard concerns about Alexander Lebedev’s involvement in the Conservative party. Lebedev, a former Russian spy and owner of The Evening Standard, has a son who is very close to Johnson. While Johnson was the Foreign Secretary, Lebedev’s son hosted him for parties in his castle in Italy. Concerns were raised as some have expressed fears over how guests have said “nothing is ‘off the menu’ from the moment you are greeted until the moment you leave”; Johnson’s private life may make him a security risk in regard to blackmail.

“There is a danger that people will leak what they have over him or blackmail with it” a Cabinet minister in May’s government told The Sunday Times.

As the election draws closer, Russia’s grip over Johnson seems to be getting tighter. The report only tells so much, however many are questioning how strong the hold may be, only time will tell.

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Emily Webb

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January 2022
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