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Monday, March 12, 2018

Tories will not hand back Russian money

In the light of the shocking attack on former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia the news that the Tory Party has received £820,000 in donations from individuals linked to Russia has led to inevitable calls for them to repay the cash.

Amongst those demanding that the money be given back is Marina Litvinenko, the widow of murdered former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. She makes the very valid point that, “You need to be sure what kind of money these people bring to your country.”

The Conservatives have received more than £3m from wealthy Russian-born donors since 2010, including £826,100 from Russian-linked supporters since Theresa May became Prime Minister. They include Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of a former Putin minister, who gave the party £253,950 in the year to September 2017.

New Century Media, which was paid by Moscow to promote a positive image of Russia in the UK in 2013, has donated £24,000 to the Tories since Mrs May became Prime Minister and £143,000 in all.

Despite this, and as the Telegraph reports, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has dug his heels in and said that none of the £820,000 will be returned as he believes that it would be wrong to “tar them with Putin’s brush”:

Mr Hammond denied that Russia was “laughing at” Britain by doing business in London while attacking British citizens on British soil, though he admitted frustration at Britain’s failure to bring Russia to heel over the Litvinenko murder in 2006. 

He said: “Of course the Russians have not complied with their international obligations despite being members of the Security Council. They have continued to protect those who we seek to extradite in respect of the murder of Mr Litvinenko.”

There is no suggestion that the money has been improperly donated of course, but it remains to be seen how long the Tories can maintain this stance, especially if the attack in Salisbury is confirmed as coming from Russia and the UK Government retaliates with economic sanctions.
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