Four Russia-linked tycoons donated around £2.7m to Tories. Putin must be delighted.

Vladimir Putin
Tom Coburg

While the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report on alleged Russian interference in UK elections continues to languish, The Canary has conducted a search of the UK Electoral Commission database. The search was on political donations by four Russia-linked oligarchs.

From this source, the total donations came to a whopping £2,578,909.38 (or £2,768.909.38 if including what appear to be additional payments by Lubov Chernukhin). Nearly all the donations went to the Conservative Party or individual Tory MPs.

Here’s a breakdown of the figures from those searches:

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.




Lubov Chernukhin

The largest donor of the four is Russian banker Lubov Chernukhin. Searches show she donated 43 separate sums, mostly to Conservative Party central office. The total came to £1,218,482.40, from April 2012 to 30 July 2019.

She also famously paid £160,000 for a game of tennis with Johnson and former prime minister David Cameron. And she paid £30,000 for dinner with cabinet minister Gavin Williamson. Assuming those payments are not included in the Electoral Commission figures, this would mean her total donations come to £1,408,482.40.

Chernukhin’s husband was a Russian government finance minister.

Alexander Temerko

Search results show Ukrainian-born Alexander Temerko made a total of 69 donations to Tory MPs and Conservative Party central office. The total donated from February 2012 to 19 March 2019 came to £693,426.98.

Temerko reportedly made his fortune in Russia in the sale of arms to the (Russian) defence arm of the Kremlin. He is known to be a good friend of Boris Johnson.

As The Canary previously reported, Temerko appears to have had links to a ‘coup’ within the Tory party that saw then prime minister Theresa May replaced by Boris Johnson. Reuters suggested that “Temerko’s allies” led this ‘coup’ and “are at the helm of Johnson’s campaign”. They allegedly included former defence secretary Gavin Williamson, political strategist Lynton Crosby, and “a group of East European businessmen”.

Other major donors

Alexander Knaster is a former CEO of Russia’s Alfa Bank and is described as:

a Russian investor with an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion as of March 2013. According to Forbes, he is ranked 882nd in the list of World Billionaires and 328th in the “Forbes 400” list.

Searches show Knaster made eight donations, again mostly to Conservative Party central office. These totalled £455,000 from May 2010 to 21 January 2015.

Lev Mikheev, meanwhile, reportedly:

splits his time between London, the US and Moscow, where he has offices next to the Kremlin and is said to have made his money managing the funds of wealthy Putin allies.

Searches show Mikheev made 15 donations to the Conservative Party. These totalled £212,000 from April 2010 to 8 May 2019.

Johnson’s friend

As The Canary previously reported, Johnson is closely associated with Evening Standard co-owner Yvegeny Lebedev, whose father worked for the KGB (Russian secret service).

Johnson is also known to have attended so-called ‘bunga- bunga’ parties (see video) at the luxury Italian villa belonging to Lebedev. That in itself could mean Johnson should be regarded as a security threat. Johnson reportedly visited the villa Palazzo Terranova four times, and flew there via Lebedev’s private jet.

ISC dossier

The ISC report on Russian interference in British elections and funding of Tories was provided to UK prime minister Boris Johnson on 17 October. But he’s refused to publish it, despite a demand by Dominic Grieve MP, who chairs the ISC, that he does so.

Given the close association Johnson has with at least one oligarch who has apparent links to Moscow, it’s imperative the nation sees this document now, rather than after the elections (or even not at all).

Moreover, questions remain about the possible influence these four and other oligarchs have on UK politics and the Conservative Party in particular.

Featured image via Dimitro Sevastapol/Pixabay

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support
  • Show Comments
    1. £2,768.909.38 should read £2,768,909.38 (comma instead of decimal point) regarding the recorded ‘donations’ to the British Conservative Party by rich Russians.

      I also read in the linked OpenDemocracy article that Johnson used Easyjet for one of the flights to go party with his Russian buddy at his luxury Italian pad. Probably just trying to keep his parliamentary expenses down and save British tax payers money by flying budget. Seemed a smidgen reckless to leave his British Foreign Office security team at home tho.

      I am very alarmed to see that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is now facing another 14 years in Iranian jail.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.