BORIS Johnson has admitted playing tennis with the wife of one of Vladimir Putin’s former ministers in exchange for a Â£ 160,000 donation to the Conservative Party.
The Foreign Minister confirmed that he participated in the game with Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir served as Deputy Minister of Finance under President Putin until 2004.
She donated in 2014 to play a game with Mr Johnson and David Cameron.
At the time, Mr Cameron insisted Ms Chernukhin was not “Putin’s friend” and had been residing in the UK for many years.
Last month Ms Chernukhin paid an additional Â£ 30,000 in a lavish Conservative fundraiser for a private tour of Churchill’s war rooms and dinner with Secretary of Defense Gavin Williamson.
Following the alleged Russian nerve agent attack in Salisbury, Labor and the SNP have highlighted the scale of Russian donations to the Tories.
Russian oligarchs and their associates have given the Tories around Â£ 826,000 since Theresa May became Prime Minister in 2016.
Last week Marina Litvinenko, widow of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was murdered in London in 2006, warned Tories against Russian money.
âYou have to be very specific where this money is coming from before you accept this money,â she said. “[The] the reputation of the Conservative Party in the UK and around the world must be clear. ”
Asked about the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on whether the tennis match had taken place, Mr Johnson replied: “It does.”
But he defended his party’s decision to take money from the Russian elite in the UK, and said it would be wrong to create a “miasma of suspicion” around all Russian emigrants.
He said: “If there is any evidence of gross corruption in the way this gentleman you mentioned [Vladimir Chernukhin] got his wealth, then it is possible for our law enforcement agencies to deprive him of his wealth with unexplained wealth order.
âThis is the business of the authorities. It’s no big deal for me.
Asked about Ms Chernukhin’s Â£ 30,000 donation in relation to the Secretary of Defense, Mr Johnson said: ‘Unless and until evidence is produced against individual Russians, I don’t think the entire nation should be slandered.
âThere are a lot of Russians who have come to this country, made their living there and made a wonderful contribution to our culture and our society, and they feel threatened.
“It is very important that we do not allow a miasma of suspicion over all Russians in London and indeed all rich Russians in London to be created.”
Mr Johnson then attacked Labor for focusing on party funding after the Salisbury attack.
He said: ‘It’s quite extraordinary at a time when you have two seriously ill people at Salisbury Hospital, when a police officer still hasn’t been released from the hospital for the fire to be started. one way or another with funding from the Conservative Party, to the best of my knowledge, all possible checks have been done and they will continue to be done.
Nicola Sturgeon raised the issue of Russians donating to Tories during the Prime Minister’s Questions last week, prompting Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to talk about it.
She said: “The difference between me and Ruth Davidson is that I made my point known on Russia Today [the propaganda channel broadcasting the Alex Salmond Show].
âWhile I’m not aware that she has made her views known on issues such as Russian donations to political parties. Perhaps she will take the opportunity to do so.
âAll of these questions need to be considered if any of them are to be raised. ”