Tag Archives: Russia

Tories took donations from oligarch linked to Putin. Is this why they never investigated Russian interference in UK politics?

Vladimir Putin: has Boris Johnson been his puppet since before he became the UK’s prime minister?

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has definitely taken donations from people linked to Russia’s President Putin – and provided private meetings with the last three UK prime ministers in return.

The money totalling £1.7 million came from Vladimir Chernukhin via his wife Lubov, according to the so-called FinCEN files – leaked “suspicious activity reports” by banks.

According to BBC News,

Leaked files show her husband received $8m (£6.1m). The money initially came from a politician facing US sanctions due to his closeness to the Kremlin.

A leak of banks’ “suspicious activity reports” … shows Vladimir Chernukhin was sent the money in 2016 from a British Virgin Islands company linked to Suleyman Kerimov.

Billionaire Mr Kerimov is the owner of Russia’s biggest gold mine and member of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.

In 2018 he was sanctioned by the US authorities, who were targeting those they said “play a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”.

Mr Chernukhin, 52, is a former deputy minister of finance under Vladimir Putin, who left Russia for London in 2004 after being sacked by the president.

The Chernukhins – one of the UK’s most prominent Russian-born couples – are now both British citizens and live in London.

Mrs Chernukhin’s donations to the Conservative Party began in 2012.

The majority – more than £1.5m – came after the $8m payment linked to Mr Kerimov was made to her husband on 29 April 2016, although it is not clear if any of that cash went to the Tories.

Mrs Chernukhin’s lawyers say the Kremlin had no influence because of the donations – but they would, wouldn’t they?

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has suffered a huge amount of bad publicity over his reluctance to do anything about suspicious donations from Russians linked to Putin’s government.

A report on Russian interference in UK politics – including the use of donations to influence policy – was due to be published before last year’s general election but Boris Johnson shelved it for no good reason.

It remained unpublished until pressure finally forced Johnson to re-convene the UK’s security committee, responsible for it, in July this year – nine months after the public should have seen it.

And it showed that successive Conservative governments have welcomed Russian oligarchs “with open arms”, giving them access to political figures “at the highest levels” – and made absolutely no attempt to investigate Russian interference in referendums and elections; in fact, the Tories “actively avoided” doing so.

The Tories had been delighted to welcome Russian money and the oligarchs who owned it, “providing them with a means of recycling illicit finance through the London ‘laundromat’.”

In response to the report, the government said it saw no evidence of interference – but it seems clear that there is a good reason for that: nobody was looking. The report made it clear that the defence of UK democratic processes was a “hot potato” over which no government organisation wanted to take the lead in conducting an assessment of Russian interference.

So we already had evidence that Conservative government had given Russian oligarchs who donated money to the party unprecedented access to – and, we may conclude, influence over – top-ranked political figures including the last three prime ministers.

Now we have evidence that this money is likely to have come from the Kremlin, attached to demands from the Putin government.

If Boris Johnson and his government continue to deny any wrongdoing – while refusing to allow an independent investigation – the public will have no choice but to brand them as corrupt lackeys of the Russians.

I mean…

How does it look to you?

Source: FinCEN Files: Tory donor Lubov Chernukhin linked to $8m Putin ally funding – BBC News

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Will Russia give us its working Covid-19 vaccine if we’re condemning Navalny poisoning?

This is awkward.

It seems Russia has developed a Covid-19 vaccine that works – it creates an immune response with no ill effects:

Sputnik V, which the Kremlin announced in August would enter mass production this month despite serious international concern, caused no major adverse effects and induced antibodies in all participants in two small rounds of early testing. The results were published in medical journal The Lancet on Friday.

If this is true, then it could end the crisis worldwide – if distributed beyond Russia.

There’s just one problem.

The Establishment here in the UK spends most of its time condemning Russia. At the moment the UK is treating that country with disdain over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny – and for interfering in UK democracy.

So there’s very little incentive for the Russians to help us.

In fact, the Russians would do well to withhold the vaccine. That country could then resume business as usual while the rest of us remain under restrictions until we come up with a vaccine of our own – or steal theirs via spies (gosh).

The UK has already fallen well behind the rest of the world because of Boris Johnson’s pathetic response to the pandemic. Make no mistake; the nation has suffered unduly because of his dithering.

Brexit could push us even further back, if Johnson fails to get a decent trade deal. That’s what we understand he wants, too.

Being forced to try to compete while still under Covid-19 restrictions could finish off the UK economy altogether.

Source: Coronavirus: Russia’s vaccine induces immune response and is safe, early trial results suggest | The Independent | Independent

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The Tories are attacking the Electoral Commission. What are they trying to hide?

Is Boris Johnson attacking the Electoral Commission to hide his connections with Russian influencers like Evgeny Lebedev?

Boris Johnson’s onslaught against the rule of law is building up speed.

His Conservative government wants to either abolish or significantly reform the Electoral Commission – the independent organisation that regulates political donations, spending and other areas, and has the power to undertake its own investigations, and fine parties and officials for breaches of the rules, although more serious matters are passed to police.

The Liberal Democrats reckon this is an attempt to prevent the exposure of “embarrassing funding connections to Russian oligarchs” – and This Writer finds it a more convincing argument than Labour’s simple claim that it risks undermining faith in democracy.

The reference to the Russia connection seems most likely because Johnson is the kind of man who acts according to his immediate needs. After the so-called ‘Russia Report’ was released, showing that his government had allowed Russians to launder money in the UK, and had turned a blind eye to Russian influence in UK politics, an attack on the organisation that regulates such things seemed inevitable.

The Tories say the Commission should accept more outside scrutiny or be disbanded. I’m not particularly against that idea, but it raises a significant question: whose scrutiny? It would have to be somebody independent – and I doubt the Tories would accept that.

And they say the Commission should not have new powers to prosecute political organisations and/or politicians. Why not? What would be the problem, if it was done with the agreement of these new outside scrutineers?

This affair could tie itself in a nasty little knot if we’re not careful – and, probably, if the Tories get their way.

Source: Tory plan to scrap election watchdog ‘undermines democracy’ | Conservatives | The Guardian

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Legal action over Russian intervention in UK politics? Let’s hope it happens before Johnson gags the courts!

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Boris Johnson and Evgeny Lebedev: 10 days after saying he saw no evidence that Russians were influencing UK politics, Johnson elevated a Russian to the House of Lords. He says there’s no evidence for an investigation into Russian influence in UK politics, despite a Parliamentary committee producing a lengthy report containing a large amount of it.

A group of MPs has threatened court action to compel the Johnson government to investigate allegations in a report on Russian intervention in UK politics.

Well, let’s hope they follow it through soon because Johnson is acting to stop the courts from having any power over his government.

Yes, that is dictatorship. You voted for it, folks! (Or if you don’t, being good, decent Vox Political readers, your neighbours did.)

It was in the Tory manifesto for the December 2019 election, for everybody to see, on page 48: a plan to forbid the courts from making orders that restrict the government from acting in any way it pleases.

I’m sure Hitler did something similar in Germany during the 1930s.

A group of politicians are threatening legal action unless Boris Johnson orders an independent investigation into Russian interference in elections.

The letter signed by Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour’s Chris Bryant follows a report which said the UK “badly underestimated” the Russian threat.

The parliamentarians argue the prime minister’s “lack of action” breaches the right to free elections.

The government said the UK had “robust systems” to protect elections.

Johnson has very close personal relationship with very notable Russians based in the UK. But we’re sure that has nothing to do with his reluctance on this matter… aren’t we?

Source: Boris Johnson threatened with legal action over Russia threat – BBC News

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Tory treachery: these are just TODAY’S reasons to regret voting ‘Conservative’

Loadsamoney: Boris Johnson and his party are rolling in it, and can expect much more, courtesy of Russia and the USA. You are going to suffer like you’ve never suffered before.

Anybody who voted ‘Conservative’ last December in the belief that they would be better-off must be really kicking themselves now.

Today we have learned that the Tories took money from Russians and then looked the other way while Russia interfered with our general elections – and possibly the Brexit referendum. The arrogant Tories have said they won’t even bother with a retrospective investigation of what happened (in case it incriminates them, perhaps).

Within the last 24 hours, the Tories voted to ensure that the National Health Service will be part of a future trade deal with the United States of America, meaning that health care in the UK will become an asset of US corporations if any such deal goes through.

Allow me to expand on this.

The Tories have already reneged on a promise that they would not allow diseased US-manufactured chlorinated chicken into the UK, meaning anybody who eats it is more likely to contract food poisoning.

Now we can see that anybody who does become ill in that way will not be able to afford help from a doctor, as they will be charged exorbitant US rates. Buying insurance will be no good because the insurance companies actively search for ways to avoid paying out (see my pieces about Unum).

Jeremy Corbyn warned us that the NHS would be privatised before the election last year – he showed you the documents! – but you were told not to vote for him, and like a herd of sheep you did as you were told.

So: possibly because of Russian interference, if you voted ‘Conservative’, you voted to harm your own health and to ensure that you would not be able to gain access to the healthcare you would need in order to get better.

That’s on you!

By all means, blame the Tories if you like. But they are Tories – it is pointless to say, “You told us you wouldn’t sell the NHS or allow chlorinated chicken, or allow the Russians to mess with our democracy,” because their answer is clear: “You knew what we were when you voted for us. We’re Tories. Lying to you is in our nature.”

Oh, and by the way, under the Tories, borrowing has reached a record high. The UK is in more debt than it has every been in the history of the country, and that is all because of the Tories.

Remember back in 2010 when they conned you into voting for them in that year’s election? They said their austerity would eliminate the national deficit by 2015, and they would go on from there to eliminate the debt as well. They lied.

And it means there will be no money for future, non-Tory governments to buy back what the Tories are selling – without creating a debt crisis as Tory lenders refuse to help out.

And for once, the saying is true.

We’re all in the mire together – because you voted Tory.

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Russia report: If Russian influence over the UK is ‘the new normal’, shouldn’t someone be charged with treason?

Bosom buddies: Boris Johnson with Russian industrialist Alexander Temerko. All perfectly innocent?

Now we can all see why Boris Johnson did not want the so-called ‘Russia Report’ released before the general election last year.

The report – released today (July 21) by Parliament’s new Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) – shows that successive Conservative governments have welcomed Russian oligarchs “with open arms”, giving them access to political figures “at the highest levels” – and made absolutely no attempt to investigate Russian interference in referendums and elections; in fact, the Tories “actively avoided” doing so.

This has led, the report states, to the growth of an industry of “enablers” who are “de facto agents of the Russian state”. The report does not explicitly state that these enablers include Conservative government politicians, but its assertion that Russia had access to “the highest levels” of political figures certainly suggests that this is the case.

And the fact that Russia has influence “at the highest levels” seems to have made it almost impossible to organise a response.

The report refers to the defence of UK democratic processes as a “hot potato” over which no government organisation wanted to take the lead in conducting an assessment of Russian interference.

In its response to the report today, the Tory government has said it has seen no evidence of interference in (this is the example it gives) the Brexit referendum. It seems clear that there is a good reason for that: nobody was looking. The government has said it sees no reason to conduct a retrospective investigation into such interference, which looks like a tacit admission of guilt in the light of the report. Committee member Stewart Hosie said, “That is meaningless if they haven’t looked for it.”

The ISC states that “social media companies must take action and remove covert hostile state material. Government must ‘name and shame’ those who fail to act”. The latter demand seems unlikely to happen as it seems clear that the Tory government does not want to do anything.

One reason for that may be the fact that the Tories have been delighted to welcome Russian money and the oligarchs who owned it, “providing them with a means of recycling illicit finance through the London ‘laundromat’.”

It is unlikely that Russia actually interfered in the mechanics of voting in general elections or the Brexit referendum; the UK’s paper-based voting system “makes actual interference with the mechanism difficult” – but “we should not be complacent about other forms of interference”.

The report states that Russian influence seems to have been exerted prominently in the social media, whose bosses had no interest in preventing it.

It states: “There have been widespread allegations that Russia sought to influence voters in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU: studies have pointed to the preponderance of pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories on RT and Sputnik, and the use of ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’, as evidence.

“The actual impact of such attempts on the result itself would be difficult – if not impossible – to prove. However what is clear is that the Government was slow to recognise the existence of the threat – only understanding it after the ‘hack and leak’ operation against the Democratic National Committee, when it should have been seen as early as 2014.

“As a result the Government did not take action to protect the UK’s process in 2016. The Committee has not been provided with any post-referendum assessment – in stark contrast to the US response to reports of interference in the 2016 presidential election. In our view there must be an analogous assessment of Russian interference in the EU referendum.”

In their statement, the Tories have made it clear that they will not conduct a retrospective investigation: “The Intelligence and Security Agencies produce and contribute to regular assessments of the threat posed by Hostile State Activity, including around potential interference in UK democratic processes.

“We keep such assessments under review and, where necessary, update them in response to new intelligence, including during democratic events such as elections and referendums.

“Where new information emerges, the Government will always consider the most appropriate use of any intelligence it develops or receives, including whether it is appropriate to make this public. Given this long standing approach, a retrospective assessment of the EU Referendum is not necessary.”

This is hardly encouraging, given that the ISC report makes it clear that the Tory government has deliberately avoided looking for Russian interference.

Labour has delivered the weak-ass response that we have come to expect from Keir Starmer’s sub-Tory party, courtesy of Lisa “I wouldn’t disclose plans to sell off the NHS” Nandy.

“The report is very clear that the Government has underestimated the response required to Russia and it is imperative we learn the lessons from the mistakes that have been made,” she said. “The Labour Party calls on the Government to study the conclusions of the report carefully and take the necessary steps to keep our country safe.”

Fat chance! And she knows it. The people of the UK needed a much more robust response, calling out Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his extremely strong ties with Russians – he plays tennis with them in return for donations to the Tory Party, remember – and demanding a full-strength investigation into connections between Conservative government members past and present and Russians in the UK – both private citizens and representatives of that country’s government.

I’ll say it again, for clarity:

What we need now is a comprehensive and independent investigation by law-enforcement agencies into connections between anybody who has been a member of a Conservative government over the past 10 years (including members of other parties who have allied with the Tories – the DUP and the Liberal Democrats) and Russians in the UK who have been here either as private citizens or as representatives of that countries government. Did – and do – these relationships pose a threat to the UK’s security and to its democracy?

And if so, should those who have created that threat be arrested and charged with treason?

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Floundering Johnson outflanked over publication of ‘Russia Report’

Facepalm: Boris Johnson could be in serious trouble with members of his own party, depending on the contents of the so-called ‘Russia Report’.

Any hope Boris Johnson may have had that he could further delay or hide the revelations in the so-called ‘Russia Report’ on interference by that country in UK politics must now be gone.

And that’s a good thing for British democracy!

A panicking Johnson furiously threw Julian Lewis out of the Parliamentary Conservative Party after he joined Labour and SNP members of the new Intelligence and Security committee to get himself elected as its chair instead of Johnson’s choice, the incompetent Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling.

And it seems Johnson is considering attempting to have Lewis removed from the committee altogether.

But Lewis has moved too fast for it to make a difference. The committee met today (July 16) and ordered that the Russia Report will be published within the next week – before Parliament rises for the summer.

It has been suggested that the report contains details that are embarrassing for the Tories – or at least for Boris Johnson. But the government has claimed that political considerations were not involved.

However (1): while it is true that Downing Street cleared the report for publication last November, Downing Street also ordered a general election, meaning that the previous Intelligence and Security committee, that would have overseen its publication, was disbanded and nothing could be done until the new committee was set up.

However (2): the creation of the new committee was delayed by eight months while Parliament waited for Boris Johnson to nominate MPs to be its members.

However (3): if there are no political considerations, why remove the Conservative whip from Lewis after his so-called ‘coup’? This committee does not operate on political lines – it was established by an Act of Parliament and must act impartially – so it is inappropriate for Johnson to claim that Lewis acted for political gain, and far more likely that, in doing so, it was in the interests of his own well-being.

However (4): it has been suggested that Johnson may now put a motion before Parliament to remove Lewis from the committee he now chairs, in order to replace him as chair with another Tory (not Grayling, who seems to be backing out) of Johnson’s choice. This really would be seen as political interference as it would indicate beyond doubt that Johnson wants to control, for his own purposes, a committee that is intended to be impartial.

He would be better-off leaving well alone.

But it seems a lot of damage has already been done.

Former Tory Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has verbally attacked Johnson, just for removing the Tory whip from Lewis.

He said: “The Act of Parliament is quite clear the Prime Minister has no role in the choice of the chairman of the committee

“Once the committee has been appointed it is for the committee itself to decide its chairman.

“The idea of using the Whips to try and force Conservative members to vote for a particular candidate goes totally against the way the committee under statute has operated since it began.

“It’s never been a partisan committee, I think the Prime Minister has handled this – or his advisers whoever is dealing with it – in an extremely incompetent way.”

And he continued, damningly: “What I most object to, was the attempt of Prime Minister and the government or whoever, Dominic Cummings, whoever is involved in these things I don’t know, to try to control the way the intelligence committee operates by choosing for its chairman and putting pressure on MPs to make him chairman.

“If they had succeeded, that destroys the whole purpose of the Intelligence and Security Committee. It is a unique committee. They are the only people who have access to the highest levels of intelligence.

“They need the confidence of the intelligence agencies and of Parliament. If they are thought to be creatures of government they have no authority to do the job that the law requires them to do.”

So with the committee chaired by Lewis, it actually has more authority than under anyone chosen by Boris Johnson. So much for his claim that it’s Lewis who was politically-motivated!

Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s intervention suggests a deeper problem for Johnson, though:

The Conservative Party still has a strong contingent of members who believe very firmly that the UK should be the most powerful country in the world and they should be running it because that makes them the most powerful people in the world.

The implication that the Russia Report has been suppressed because it indicates some form of collusion – of subservience – by representatives of their party to Russia is anathema to them.

They want to know the facts – now – so they can work out what to do about Johnson.

His troubles may be only just beginning.

Source: Russia ‘interference’ report to be published – BBC News

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Beyond satire: has Boris Johnson found another way to delay release of the ‘Russia Report’?

Chris Grayling: how can this become chair of an intelligence committee? He’s practically drooling in the photograph.

We are being asked to believe that the long-awaited report on Russian influence in UK politics could soon be released after Boris Johnson announced his nominations for the Parliamentary committee responsible for it.

But how can Parliament approve those nominations when he has nominated legendary dunderhead Chris Grayling to chair the committee?

Grayling is quite possibly the stupidest human being ever to infest the Palace of Westminster. His blunders are legendary and installing him as chair of a committee with the word “intelligence” in its title would be a contradiction in terms.

Even if this imbecile is cleared to chair the committee by Parliament, there is no guarantee that he won’t conform to his character and either lose the document that’s causing Boris Johnson so much concern – or destroy it.

Needless to say, Twitter has greeted the situation with both horror and hilarity:

https://twitter.com/eljgales2/status/1281360099198611457

https://twitter.com/libdemfightbac/status/1281339893298475010

Still, it is possible to see light at the end of the tunnel…

Source: Long-delayed report into Russian influence on UK politics could soon be cleared for publication | The Independent

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Do you believe Downing Street’s story that the Russia report may soon be published?

Parliament’s committee responsible for publishing the report on Russian interference in UK politics may be reconvened “imminently” – according to Downing Street sources.

Do you believe that?

Or do you think that, even if it happens, it’s only because Boris Johnson has found another way to delay the report – or hide what it says?

According to the BBC, the government is denying that Johnson has stalled the process:

A source close to the process has told me they are hopeful the committee will be confirmed by Downing Street “imminently”.

That would remove the most significant obstacle to the Russia report being published and means it could happen soon.

Number 10, meanwhile, has denied deliberately stalling the process.

The PM’s spokesman said the government wanted to get the committee up and running as soon as circumstances allowed.

But the spokesman said the last few months has seen an unprecedented situation in government and Parliament.

So the Covid crisis has made Johnson so busy he hasn’t had time to restore this vital organisation that could release damning information?

What’s he been busy doing? Changing nappies?

Apparently so. But while This Writer approves of equality in the parenting process, as prime minister, Johnson has a responsibility to the nation.

He seems to have forgotten that. But did you anything different from him?

Source: Russia report committee to be set up ‘imminently’ – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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