As the old saying goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune: that thought cannot have been far away for those reading the Guardian’s recent report on the donations to Tory funds from Lubov Chernukhin, who describes herself as a “Banker and consultant”, although she is excessively modest in so doing. She also “is the wife of Vladimir Putin’s former deputy finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin”.
Cui bono, Bozo?
The tally of her generosity? “Chernukhin’s latest £45,000 donation means the 46-year-old has given more than £1.6m to the Conservative party in 48 cash donations over the past seven years … Her donations seem directed at whoever is the leader of the Conservative party at the time”. Co-author Luke Harding later Tweeted out the article.
Which was picked up by his Observer colleague Carole Cadwalladr, who responded “Again! The old tennis-with-an-oligarch play. Boris Johnson sells himself out for Russian cash on move again. Meanwhile, the Russia report on political interference still missing in action”. And, yes, the article does mention the lack of Russia Report visibility.
That did not stop Dominic Raab, who claims to be Foreign Secretary, from telling his followers yesterday “2 years ago today the Russian state used banned chemical weapons in Salisbury. Thanks to the determination of its residents, Salisbury is flourishing again. We’ve shown we won’t be cowed by such barbaric attacks & are leading efforts to expose the malign activity of Russia’s GRU”. But very few people wanted to look over there.
One Tweeter responded “If the Russians can turn up and murder people and broadly get away with it, what else are they getting away with? If only there was some kind of committee that could get together and produce a report for us to read” while another added “Your govt fancy putting together the select committee so we can see the [Russia Report]? The excuses are wearing very thin, now. Today, more than ever, shows we need to know how Russia is trying to interfere in our country”. Quite.
Jon Worth added his own adverse comment in kind “4 years ago the Russian state used illegal digital techniques in the Brexit referendum. Today due to the cowardliness of the Government the Russia Report still has not been published. We've shown we're happy to be cowed by barbaric tactics and do not care about malign activity”. Ouch!
And while Grahame Lucas simply demanded “Release the [Russia Report] if you‘ve got nothing to hide!” and Deborah Meaden saw that the petition for release was open once more: “Aha!!! Here we go people . Let’s see that [Russia Report] we paid for and waited so long to see”, others did not give the appearance of trusting the Tories to do the right thing.
Mike Hind was one of them. “What do the people who bang on daily about releasing the Russia report think will happen when it's released?” And there’s the problem: by the time the relevant Committee is back together, and release is authorised, what is in that report is likely to have seen enough redacting, or other forms of editing, to ensure that its contents do not cause alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson too much trouble.
You don’t trust the Tories to release it? Don’t trust them not to fiddle with it, either.
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