MP urges Boris Johnson to donate oligarch-linked donations to Ukrainian charities

Boris Johnson

The Conservative Party should give money from a Conservative donor with Russian links to Ukrainian humanitarian causes, Boris Johnson has been told. While the issue of UK politicians accepting donations from Russian oligarchs is nothing new – The Canary having reported on it for years – it has suddenly become advantageous for politicians to acknowledge the issue:

From Russia with cash

Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir Chernukhin served as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s deputy finance minister before moving to the UK in 2004, has given more than £2m to the Conservative Party since 2016.

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Figures released by the Electoral Commission on Wednesday 2 March show Mrs Chernukhin donated another £80,250 to the party in the final months of 2021. At Prime Minister’s Questions on the same day, Labour MP Bill Esterson asked Boris Johnson if he would instruct the Conservative Party to hand the money to Ukrainian humanitarian causes:

Esterson said:

I know he doesn’t want to tar everyone with Russian links with the same brush and neither do I, but leaked documents… show that Vladimir Chernukhin received eight million US dollars from a Russian member of parliament, an ally of Putin who was later sanctioned by the United States.

This is an opportunity for the Conservative Party and for the Prime Minister to end the suspicion of conflict of interests with Putin whilst showing solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Boris Johnson replied:

It is absolutely vital that if we are to have a successful outcome in what we are trying to do collectively, united with Ukraine, that we demonstrate that this is not about the Russian people, it is about the Putin regime.

Nothing to see here

The Tories have previously defended taking money from Mrs Chernukhin and there is no suggestion that Mr and Mrs Chernukhin’s vast fortune – more than a person could earn in several lifetimes – is illegitimate. Mrs Chernukhin is entitled to donate to UK political parties as she is a British citizen.

Other major donors to the Conservative Party listed in Wednesday’s release from the Electoral Commission, which covers the final three months of 2021, include West End producer John Gore, who donated £350,000 over the period. Gore has donated more than £6m to the Conservative Party since 2017, making him one of the party’s leading donors in recent years.

In total, the party received almost £5m in donations during the last three months of 2021, an increase of more than £800,000 on the previous three months. The Conservatives received £3.2m from individual donors and another £950,000 from companies.

Corbyn called it

While Labour leader in 2018, Jeremy Corbyn called out the issue of politicians accepting donations from Russian oligarchs. At the time, he was roundly criticised by politicians:

Corbyn isn’t the only figure on the left to go after the oligarchs and the crooked, capitalist system they represent:

As mentioned, The Canary has published multiple pieces on dodgy oligarch money. It’s nice that politicians seem ready to tackle the issue too. The question is will they still be fighting corruption when it’s no longer politically advantageous to do so?

Additional reporting by PA

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  • Show Comments
    1. Given the support being given by the UK government for the ongoing Saudi war crimes against the people of Yemen, perhaps Saudi links and donations need to be re-examined by The Canary. From 2018:

      “In the past five years, moreover, Saudi Arabia and other autocracies spent £700,000 on luxury trips for MPs, more than 80% of whom were Tories. Just under £200,000 of that was money from Saudi Arabia to pay for the excursions of 41 MPs, 40 of whom were Conservatives. Now why would they possibly be doing that? Could it be – given that MPs receive nothing from our democratic allies for such trips – that this is part of a clear PR offensive, an attempt to secure influence over the Conservative government?

      Indeed, Rehman Chishti – the newly appointed vice-chair of the Conservative party for communities – received £2,000 a month from the Riyadh-based King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies between March 2016 and January 2018. Although the parliamentary commissioner for standards saw no reason to take action, it is worth noting his rampant pro-Saudi dictatorship sympathies. His Twitter feed includes boasting of being congratulated by the Saudi dictator for being re-elected as an MP in 2015, hosting lectures by Saudi officials, and leading Tory parliamentary delegations to Saudi Arabia. His colleague, Daniel Kawczynski, goes on TV to justify the barbaric Saudi assault on Yemen, crows about writing the “most pro-Saudi book ever written by a British politician”, but then threatened to sue when this was linked with went on a trip worth £6,722.14 paid for by the Saudi regime.”

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