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Boris Johnson’s election campaign funded by wife of former Putin ally

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  • Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party accepts £200,000 from the wife of a former Russian finance Minister under President Putin.
  • The donation comes after Johnson blocked a report into possible Russian interference in recent UK elections.
  • Lubov Chernukhin has previously paid for a tennis match with Johnson and a night out with Theresa May.
  • Johnson has refused to publish the report until after voters go to the polls.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party election campaign has received a six-figure donation from the wife of a former Russian finance minister and ally of President Putin.

The Prime Minister’s party received £5.6 million in donations in the first week of the campaign from senior business figures and hedge funds, more than 25 times the amount raised by the opposition Labour party.

The largest single donor was Lubov Chernukhin who is the wife of the Russian oligarch Vladimir Chernukhin. She donated £200,000 to the Conservative campaign. 

Chernukhin previously paid £160,000 for a tennis match with Johnson and £135,000 for a night out with former Prime Minister Theresa May.

The donation comes after Johnson refused to publish a report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee into potential Russian interference in recent UK elections.

The committee reportedly looked into donations from nine Russian sources, according to a report by the Sunday Times.

The report was due for publication prior to the start of the election campaign but was blocked by Johnson, due to reported fears that the information would damage his chances of winning the upcoming UK general election.

Among those donors named in the suppressed report are Alexander Temerko, who worked for the Russian defence ministry and has previously boasted that the prime minister is his “friend”.

Temerko donated more than £1.2m to the Conservatives over the past seven years.

The committee also reportedly heard concerns about the former Russian spy Alexander Lebedev, who owns the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers.

Lebedev is not a donor to the Conservative Party. However, his son Evgeny is a close friend of the prime minister and has repeatedly hosted him for parties at his castle in Perugia Italy, while Johnson was mayor of London and Foreign Secretary.

Concerns were raised about Johnson’s decision to attend the events, in which guests have reported that “nothing is off the menu from the moment you are greeted to the moment you leave.”

Fears have previously been raised that Johnson’s private life may make him a “security risk” due to the possibility he could be blackmailed.

“There’s the danger that people leak what they have over him or blackmail him with it,” a Cabinet minister in Theresa May’s government told the Sunday Times earlier this year.

Sources who have seen the report told the Times they believe the report has been suppressed because it highlights extensive connections between Conservative donors and Russia’s Federal Security Bureau.

“What makes it interesting is just how close some of these people are to the FSB are or have been,” one source told the paper.

An investigation by Open Democracy last week found that the Conservative Party received at least £498,850, or about $642,000, from Russian business executives and their associates between November 2018 and last month.

This was a significant increase from the previous year when such donations amounted to less than £350,000.

The increase came 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.

The news also comes as Johnson’s chief strategist, Dominic Cummings, is under the spotlight after the Sunday Times reported claims from a whistleblower about “serious concerns” about the time he spent in Russia in the 1990s.

Cummings has reportedly had his access to intelligence restricted by UK authorities, despite his senior position.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw told the Sydney Morning Herald that this “unprecedented arrangement” was a concern for Britain’s security relations with other countries.

“If I we’re one of the UK’s Five Eyes allies I would be extremely concerned about this unprecedented arrangement,” Bradshaw said.

“Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, whose account of his time in Russia is apparently full of gaps and inaccuracies, is granted inexplicably the highest level of security clearance yet is not given full access to secret intelligence.”

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