Boris Johnson’s links with Russia and China spilling into public view
By Rob Woodward – TruePublica: A Freedom of Information (FOI) request surrounding the Russian interference report by a group of journalists has been dismissed as ‘vexatious’ by Downing Street officials. Its the hallmark of this new government – ducking and diving and if that doesn’t work – lie. But the pieces of the puzzle are emerging one at a time.
Boris Johnson is on record to be mixing with members of the Russian secret service. We know Russian oligarchs and those connected to the Kremlin have donated large quantities of money to the Tory party and to getting Boris Johnson elected. We know that Britain’s own security services are wary of Boris Johnson and these connections. And we know that certain state secrets were withheld from Johnson when he was Foreign secretary. But the Russia Report threatens to tell us it may be worse than that.
The Sunday Times reported last November that Johnson had blocked the Russia Report’s publication due to fears that it would reveal links between major Conservative donors and the Russian state and its secret service.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism then sought to see the e-mails between the prime minister’s office and the parliamentary committee behind the Russia report in the lead up to the general election.
Release of the communications between Downing Street and the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) could have helped to explain the decision to delay the publication of the Russian interference report, which is still yet to be published more than 100 days after the media first reported on the document. At the time Dominic Grieve, then the ISC chairman, said the decision to delay its publication until after the election was “jaw-dropping”.
SafeSubcribe/Instant Unsubscribe - One Email, Every Sunday Morning - So You Miss Nothing - That's It
Many journalists and political commentators are accusing the Johnson government of a cover-up. The government is actually attempting to cover up the coverup by making this a two-stage issue. The first is the communication surrounding the report, the second is the report itself. And let’s make no mistake here, this is a scandal that could bring this government to its knees.
It was always going to be that investigative journalists were going to find their way into this story. So what are we talking about here? This is about Russian interference into British politics. Broken down further – it’s about a foreign state and what they want in return.
Byline Times has just reported in their article Tip of the Iceberg that for years, going back to when Johnson was Mayor of London, he was always closely connected to the heart of the Russian leadership. Johnson was at the centre of a company that promoted Russian interests in London through Moscow’s city government, the Russian Embassy, the Russian culture charity Pushkin House and the Russian Speaking Community Council (RSCC).
According to a Freedom of Information request, Johnson annually requested support for this company from high-ranking Russian officials – this even included Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov. Another name is that of Dmitri Firtash. Johnson secured funds from the Firtash Foundation to promote Russian interests. Firtash is under US indictment and awaiting extradition from Austria. He is a pro-Putin oligarch and a close supporter of the former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2013 after he backtracked on a pledge to tie the country more closely to Europe than Russia.
From here the Byline Times story just gets confusing because of the scale of links involved. It is littered with the connections between Boris Johnson, Russian oligarchs, dodgy offshore companies, money laundering outfits, foriegn security services and more. The conclusion to that part of the story ends with – “For Boris Johnson, what seemed like a one-off chance meeting with Mifsud (questioned by the FBI into Russian interference in the US election that saw Trump become President) now fits into a wider circle of Russian influence around Britain’s Prime Minister over a period of years.”
There are questions that need to be answered about the substantial donations to the Conservative Party by Russian oligarchs and their connections to the Kremlin. There are questions to be answered about accusations behind ‘dark-money’ flowing not just into Conservative coffers but also how millions has been filtered into local Conservative campaign efforts that saw the so-called ‘red-wall’ fall in December’s election. There are questions still to be answered about Johnson’s connections with The Independent and London Evening Standard whose owner is Evgeny Lebedev and his former KGB father. And as Byline rightly says we cannot begin to assess the full impact of foreign influence on British politics until we see the publication of the long-awaited Russia Report.
And it’s not just Russia. China seems to be getting a high degree of preferential treatment right now with Huaewi and now getting into the debate about building HS2.
Max Johnson – Russia and China
Max Johnson is Boris’s brother. He has a B.A with Honours in Russian (from Christ Church, Oxford, in 2007) and an M.B.A from Tsinghua University in Beijing. Max has spent a long time in both countries and permanently lives somewhere between China and Hong Kong and speaks fluent Russian and Mandarin. Max was once Vice-Chair of the British Chamber of Commerce in China and is currently a “Leading Light” for the British Council China initiative. At this point, there appears to be no suspicion of wrong-doing, it’s just the fact that Max is very well connected to both Russia and China and to his brother, the British PM.
Boris also went on a jaunt to China back in 2013 when he was Mayor of London. There he met Chinese businessman Xu Weiping, ended up awarding Weiping a massive construction project in the UK that then ended in another scandal – two actually. The first was that the tender process somehow strongly favoured Weiping’s company ABP, where British companies lost out. The second was the amount of money in the form of a ‘donation’ by an Anglo-Chinese businesswoman with strong connections to ABP (Xuelin Black) gave to the Conservative party.
It turned out that the businesswoman Xuelin Black was married to the Home office minister Lord (Michael) Bates. She donated £162,000 to the Conservatives and denied any connection to ABP.
Sir Alistair Graham, a former chairman of the government’s Committee on Standards in Public Life, said there should be an independent investigation into the ABP project because – “It has the smell of a semi-corrupt arrangement, doesn’t it?”
Johnson also set up a company London and Partners, a taxpayer-funded agency set up to attract foreign investment to London. It then turned out that London and Partners had been sharing an office with ABP with substantial payments made towards rent, personnel and so on. Four years later, that same huge construction project was underway in 2017 with ABP – but China’s State-owned construction firm CITIC became the lead contractor, who substantially helped with funding.
That smell was the stink of corruption. There is no doubting that Britain needs inward investment or that Chinese companies can be of use in post-Brexit Britain – but not when it comes down to brown envelopes in back pockets to keep the political coffers of a political party topped up.
What these examples demonstrate is that Boris Johnson is mired in allegations of corruption, immersed in accusations over foreign interference in British politics and at the heart of scandalous coverups that threatens the stability of the government. Watch this space, more pieces of this puzzle are coming to light right now.