How do you say ‘buying influence’ in Russian

buyinginfluence

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson doesn’t want us to see the parliamentary report on Russian meddling in the EU referendum campaign and the security threat that the Kremlin represents to elections in the UK. After an 18 month long investigation the report was due to be published this week, but the government has refused to authorise its release. This means that the report will not see the light of day until after the general election – if at all.

Is this reluctance of our Brexit supporting Prime Minister to allow the public to see the extent of Russian involvement in the EU referendum and the degree to which Russian cash is fueling the Tory party because:
a) There’s absolutely nothing of interest in the report and he’s sparing us the boredom out of kindness and altruism.
b) He’s got a prior engagement at the school of one of the kids that he’s remembered he’s got.
c) He doesn’t want the report to clash with the release of Donald Trump’s tax returns.
d) The report is deeply damaging to a Conservative party that’s feeding on Russian dark money, and shows that the EU referendum was won by a leave campaign that not only broke electoral law, it was also aided by Vladimir Putin, thus undermining the validity of the referendum’s result.

My money is on d).

The report is understood to shine a spotlight on the Russian money that is fuelling the Conservative party, and to have examined the allegations that Russian bot farms and social media manipulation had a major influence in boosting support for Brexit during the 2016 EU referendum. The campaign was marked by a proliferation of fake news promoted online, it is thought, by Russian interests. In addition, there have been numerous reports in recent years that British politics, and the Conservative party in particular, have developed a dependency on cash from Russian oligarchs.

So for example at a Tory fundraiser in 2018, Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband was Vladimir Putin’s deputy finance minister, paid £20,000 at an auction in order to have lunch with Ruth Davidson. The Russian minister’s wife has been a regular donor to the Tories, having paid £30,000 the previous year in order to have lunch with Gavin Williamson – whose sole claim to fame is that he later had to resign for leaking proceedings from the National Security Council and in so doing wrested the title of Disgraced Former Defence Secretary from Liam Fox. Williamson is now back in Government. In 2014, Chernukhin paid £160,000 to play tennis with David Cameron and Boris Johnson. She has donated a total of £626,500 to the Conservatives since 2012.

It is believed that the Conservatives have received £3m from Russian oligarchs since 2010. In the 20 months before March 2018, the Tories received £820,000 from Russian sources. Tory supporters claim that suggestions that Russian donors are buying influence are mere innuendo. That’s £820,000 worth of innuendo right there.

Then there’s the dark money which the Conservative branch office in Scotland used to fund its campaign in 2017. Certain constituencies were flooded with cash, which in turn assured the Conservatives of victory. We don’t know, we’re not allowed to know, who provided the money or what, if anything, they expected in return for it. Yet public, open, and transparent crowdfunders from pro-independence websites are regularly decried and denounced by those same Tories and their supporters. If Vladimir Putin’s pals were giving me the same amount of money that they give to the Tories, I wouldn’t have to bother doing an annual crowdfunder. Just sayin’. And I would also be denounced in the press as a threat to national security.

All of this calls into question the stability of British democracy. But there’s scarcely a word in the broadcast media or the press. Yet can you imagine the howls of anger if the SNP had been courting Russian donations and had received even a fraction of the amount raked in by the Tories? There was a concerted campaign of outrage in the Scottish media when former First Minister Alex Salmond decided to broadcast his TV show on a Russian owned channel, and he’s no longer actively involved in politics. Yet Conservative MPs receive four times as much money from Russian TV as Labour politicians do, and considerably more than anyone in the SNP.

The links to Russian money and the behaviour of the Vote Leave campaign have raised serious questions about the reliability of the EU referendum result. Vote Leave’s campaign director was Dominic Cummings, a man who is now a senior advisor in Number 10 Downing Street, widely believed to be the person responsible for the decision to prorogue Parliament unlawfully in a failed attempt to ram through a no deal Brexit by 31 October. Yet when Cummings was called to appear before a Commons committee investigating the issue of fake news during the EU referendum, he refused to show up. The Commons later ruled that his refusal to appear put him in contempt of Parliament. Labour’s Emily Thornberry has raised questions about Cummings’ links to Russia and whether he was properly vetted by the security services before being appointed to the senior post he now occupies.

The Vote Leave campaign was fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. It was later fined £61,000 for breaking electoral law by exceeding spending limits. We learned last week that evidence related to overspending by the Vote Leave campaign has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service by the police. It is entirely possible that criminal charges will be brought.

So you might think given the stink that already surrounds the fairness and probity of an EU referendum whose result has had such a massive impact upon the politics, economy, and future of the UK, that the British Government would do its utmost to ensure that there would be complete transparency and openness about all investigations into the referendum in order to reestablish public trust in British democracy. All the more so because some of the most senior people in the British Government, including the Prime Minister himself and his most senior advisor, were intimately involved in the campaign at the heart of the allegations about Russian interference. You would of course be wrong.

The British Government has refused to authorise release of the report, despite it already having been cleared for publication by the security services, and despite the fact that the document was first sent out for official clearance as long ago as March. It has refused to give a date for publication, but it is no longer possible for it to see the light of day before the election. This is a report which could have a direct and devastating impact upon public trust in the Government. You can hear the sound of arse-covering all the way from Westminster. UK politics are not fit for purpose and British politicians can no longer insist that the public gives them the benefit of the doubt. The onus is on the Conservatives to prove that we are not living in a state where wealthy Russian interests are buying influence at the very heart of government. The Government’s decision to block publication of this report suggests that we are living in such a state.


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24 comments on “How do you say ‘buying influence’ in Russian

  1. Craig P says:

    >>Lubov Chernukhin paid £20,000 at an auction in order to have lunch with Ruth Davidson.

    Well that’s twenty grand wasted.

  2. Andy Anderson says:

    Even if a small part of what you say is proven in the clobbered report Paul the democracy is dead as a dodo in the U.K.

    Where is the escape button?

    Worrying times indeed.

  3. Ken says:

    It’s Russian emigre that are funding the Tories. The tax evading Russians Putin has issues with them Taking £Billions illegally out of Russia. The influence comes from tax evading Russian in London. Johnston is in their pocket. Some have already left for Israel. The richest oligarch. Abramovich.

    Putin does not like the EU but has to work with Germany etc on gas pipe lines. The US does not approve, wanting to sell Europe fracked gas.

    Putin has improved the Russian economy reducing poverty. That is why he gets high approval rating. Putin did not go along with Cameron disapproval of Scottish Independence. Putin has supported eastern bloc self determination and self governance.

    The Tories are the threat to the Scottish economy. The Russian saved the west in the 11WW took the brunt of it. Johnston tried to get Trump to start a war on the Russian border. More bloodshed. Trump would not go along with it. He to make friends with Russia. The Democrats are trying to impeach him. They do not want peace.

    • Phil McGlass says:

      Nice touch of balance there. Sad to say that the money of these particular UK-resident Russian oligarchs is probably just the visible tip of a very large multi-faceted iceberg.

      And, by the way, let’s remember that the UK is not, and never has been a democracy – it is an oligarchy concealed behind the facade of the Westminster parliament.

  4. So Russia influences elections in other countries ?
    As if U.K. , USA , France , Germany , China ,Japan etc etc do not.
    The fact is they all do it , not just Russia.

    England is shutting Scotland Wales NI out of political discussions regarding the GE by getting the BBC ITV SKY , radio , newspapers to exclude the rest.

    When will they send in the army ?

  5. […] Wee Ginger Dug How do you say ‘buying influence’ in Russian Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson doesn’t want us to see the parliamentary report […]

  6. Bob Lamont says:

    Grieve’s TV interview observations should be shaking many out of their stupor, there is only one reason for a PM not to tick off a redacted report, damage….
    Political or personal embarrassment (which was not redacted) should have no role in this, unless you’re an Emperor…. Biggus Dickus perhaps…

  7. aLurker says:

    These allegations (and various others) have been easily findable on the internet for a long time.

    Part of the story here is the role of the “Main stream Media” in choosing to not investigate and not report them.

    We are all well used to that in Scotland!

    “Boris Johnson and the Russian Mountain”

    😉

    Dominic Grieve. former Attorney General and chair of the Intelligence and Security committee “Let me explain…”

    https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/matt-frei/dominic-grieve-report-russian-interference/

    😉

    • Golfnut says:

      Very, very interesting. It would appear that support for Independence is not far off the support in Scotland at the start of the Indy campaign, with the old codgers ( as in Scotland) the most likely to vote against it.
      Thanks for sharing.

  8. wullie says:

    Reds under the Bed. As ever lab lib tory. None of these people in any of the Unionist parties give a flying f about anybody anywhere on this planet. The UK is a gangster country its a criminals paradise

  9. astytaylor says:

    Interesting article, Paul, thank you.
    Not the sort of thing to be found on BBC or mainstream newspapers these days.
    Investigative journalism: whatever did happen to that?

  10. Thepnr says:

    Research from open democracy just posted in the last half hour on Russian financing of the Tory party reveals… pretty much what you said and not much new either.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/dark-money-investigations/revealed-russian-donors-have-stepped-tory-funding/

    • weegingerdug says:

      Yeah, all this information has been available online for quite a while. It’s just that the majority of the media chooses to turn a blind eye to it.

      • Phil McGlass says:

        Right at the end of the Open Democracy report is this:

        “A spokesperson for the Conservative Party said: “The Conservative Party does not accept foreign donations – as they are illegal.

        “The individuals you have mentioned have lived in Britain for many years and are British citizens, which gives them the democratic right to donate to a political party. We won’t take any lectures from the Labour party, whose leader sided with Putin over the Salisbury attacks.”

        A spokeswoman for New Century Media said that all its political donations are a matter of public record.”

        Assuming these statements can be verified I ask myself if it could be that somebody is trying to stir up anti-Russian sentiment here to ape the American scene? What do they not want us to be thinking about while we rage on about the peril from the bear?

        Propaganda is hell !

  11. Thank you. Very informative. I am going to share this at the Facebook.

  12. Foreign interference in U.K. political process is nothing new of course.
    US pressure on Wilson in the form of economic warfare in the mid ‘60s was one example.
    Maxwell was another.

  13. Contrary says:

    I think all outside interference, and all lobbying of politicians should stop, the whole thing is amoral – not necessarily illegal of course because those in power receiving vast sums of money ensure it isn’t. But there are laws regarding spending and foreign funding of election campaigns – but our main parties think that’s all fine as long as they ‘pay their fines’, so it’s worth their while breaking their rules. Well, if those are the moral standards we are meant to follow, I guess they expect anarchy soon enough,,, oh except I forgot. There are different rules for the ‘poor’.

    This article emphasises Russian funding, but then mixes up Putin and Russian Oligarchs – I suspect the latter are as much a thorn in Putin’s side as in ours. It just isn’t as simple as ‘the Russians what done it’. I’m sure all sides are interfering, in some way or another, but they are not so easily pigeonholed into ‘Putin’s Russia’.

    Listen out for the name Bill Browder – nasty sociopathic (proven) liar – had to do a runner from America because they found out some of his nasty little games in Russia (he didn’t pay tax, which seems to be the only thing Americans care about), part of the raping and pillaging of Russia after the USSR fell. Why does this man have any influence in British politics? He demonises Russia, bizarrely for things they didn’t do, and is fully in bed with the Russian oligarchs.

    No, there are international monied groups involved in influencing our politics.

    Gordon Indycar says the money trail for the Dark Money goes back from NI through Saudia Arabia to America. (My own person petrodollar – brexit connection conspiracy theory is supported by this trail). The man who followed the trail has reported it to police Scotland.

    Russians? Hah, probably far far more important is American interference, but I don’t think it’s even as simple as that. Too many of our top politicians are in bed with shady international groups. Putin is certainly not our friend, but I don’t know why anybody thinks the leadership of any other country would be another’s friend. And there are a lot of American-British connections (from banking to security services) that could be exploited.

    There should be ZERO outside funding of political parties in the uk, and total transparency.

    The report should be published though, and suppressing it is a very bad look. I’d like a similar investigation into American interference.

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