The Conservative Party has received a huge surge in Russian donations since Boris Johnson was elected leader, an investigation has uncovered.
OpenDemocracy found the party received at least £498,850 from Russian business people and their associates between November 2018 and October 2019.
This was a significant increase on the previous year when they received donations amounting to less than £350,000.
Tennis with Johnson
Major donors in recent months include Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir served as a finance minister under Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In 2014 she paid £160,000 for a game of tennis with Johnson and former prime minister David Cameron, as well as a further £30,000 for dinner with the current Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Other donors include Russian-born banker Lev Mikheev and energy tycoon Alexander Temerko.
It comes after the government refused to publish a report into possible Russian interference in the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum.
Downing Street was accused of holding back the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) after indicating it would not be cleared for release until Parliament returns after the general election.
However, Lord Evans of Weardale, who was MI5 director general until 2013, said if ministers were not prepared to release it, they should explain why.
“In principle, I think it should be released,” he told BBC Radio 4.
“Part of the reason for having an Intelligence and Security Committee is that issues of public concern can be properly considered and the public can be informed through the publication of the reports once they have gone through the security process.
“If the Government have a reason why this should not be published before the election, then I think they should make it very clear what that reason is.”
Espionage, subversion and interference in elections
The report, by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, was finalised in March and referred to No 10 on 17 October.
It examines Russian activity, including allegations of espionage, subversion and interference in elections – and includes evidence from UK intelligence services such as GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 concerning covert Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 general election.
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