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Boris Johnson’s Conservatives receive surge in cash from Russians

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  • Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party have received a surge in donations from Russians in recent months.
  • Donors with ties to Putin have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the party.
  • They have previously paid for meetings with senior government figures including Johnson.
  • The figures come as Johnson blocks publication of a report into potential Russian influence over recent UK elections.
  • Johnson’s senior strategist Dominic Cummings is also under the spotlight following reports about time he spent in Russia in the 1990s.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A new investigation reveals that Boris Johnson’s Conservative party have received a surge in cash from Russian donors over the past year, as his government blocks publication of a report into Russian influence over recent elections.

An OpenDemocracy investigation found that the UK Conservative party received at least £498,850 from Russian business people and their associates between November 2018 and October 2019.

This was a significant increase on the previous year when they received donations amounting to less than £350,000. 

It comes despite increased pressure on the party to cut its ties to Russian oligarchs since the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury last year.

It also comes as Johnson’s chief strategist Dominic Cummings came under the spotlight for alleged Russian ties, after the Sunday Times reported claims from a whistleblower about “serious concerns” about the time he spent in Russia in the 1990s.

Donors dinners and tennis games 

Boris Johnson Russia


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Major donors to the Conservative party in recent months included Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir served as a finance minister under Russian President Vladimir Putin in the early noughties, OpenDemocracy found.

She donated £450,000 over the last year. In 2014 she paid £160,000 for a game of tennis with Johnson and former prime minister David Cameron as well as a further £30,000 for dinner with the current Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Chernukhin earlier this year dined with ex-prime minister Theresa May and numerous female members of the Cabinet at the time, after donating £1350,000 to a Conservative party fundraising event.

London-based PR firm New Century Media donated £20,000 to the Conservatives in May of this year.

The company has a series of links to Russia. In 2013, the Russian government paid the firm to portray a “positive image” of the country in the UK, OpenDemocracy found.

New Century Media also reportedly played a role in helping Vasily Shestakov, Putin’s judo partner, meet ex-prime minister David Cameron at a Conservative party fund-raising dinner in 2014.

Other donors include Russian-born banker Lev Mikheev and energy tycoon Alexander Temerko.

Temerko once said he and his “friend” Boris Johnson would “plot” and drink wine together at Johnson’s parliamentary office, when the current prime minister was the UK’s foreign secretary, Reuters reported.

A Conservative party spokesperson said: “The Conservative Party does not accept foreign donations – as they are illegal.”

They said that the donors reported by OpenDemocracy “have lived in Britain for many years and are British citizens, which gives them the democratic right to donate to a political party.”

Johnson blocks report on Russian interference

Boris Johnson Russia


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The new figures emerged as Prime Minister Johnson comes under increasing scrutiny for his government’s refusal to publish a report into possible Russian interference in the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum.

The UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee sent Johnson its report weeks ago but the prime minister is yet to sign it off and make it public, according to committee chair, member of Parliament Dominic Grieve. 

Johnson’s government will not publish the 50-page report until after the general election on December 12. 

The Foreign Office Minister Christopher Pincher told MPs on Tuesday that it would be “some time” before it was published, adding that: “When the prime minister has concluded that the report is publishable he will publish it.”

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