- Boris Johnson blocked a report on Russian interference in UK elections because it revealed “embarrassing” links between Conservative donors and the Kremlin, sources have told the Times.
- Sources who have seen the report suspect that Downing Street fear the revelations would be weaponised in the upcoming general election campaign.
- Downing Street also reportedly fear the report may damage relations with Donald Trump.
- The revelations follow an investigation published this week which revealed a surge in donations from Russian-based oligarchs to the Conservative party.
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Boris Johnson is suspected of blocking publication of an inquiry into Russian interference in UK elections, because of the “embarrassing” links it reveals between the Russian secret service and donors to the Conservative party.
The prime minister feared that the revelations would be weaponised by opposition parties during the upcoming general election campaign, sources involved in the decision to block its publication told the Times.
The revelation comes as an investigation published this week found that there has been a surge in donations from Russian oligarchs, who have links to the Kremlin, to the Conservative party in the past year.
Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee submitted their report on Russian interference in UK elections to Downing Street two weeks ago. However, Johnson’s government have insisted that it is not “publishable” prior to the election.
“When the prime minister has concluded that the report is publishable he will publish it,” the Foreign Office Minister Christopher Pincher, told members of Parliament on Tuesday, adding that it could take months to emerge.
However, sources who have seen the report told the Times believe it has been suppressed because it highlights the connections between London-based Russian oligarchs who fund the Conservative Party and Russia’s Federal Security Bureau.
“What makes it interesting is just how close some of these people are to the FSB are or have been,” one source told the paper.
Sources told the paper that Russian figures with connections to the Kremlin “have contacts right across British society, whether it’s business or in some cases the House of Lords.” However, they add that there is no evidence of “systematic wrongdoing.”
The report also risked damaging relations between Downing Street and Donald Trump, the Times reports, due to the involvement of Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent behind the dossier on the president’s contacts with Moscow.
A surge in Russian cash to the Conservative Party
An OpenDemocracy investigation this week found that the UK Conservative Party received at least £498,850, or about $US642,000, from Russian business executives and their associates between November 2018 and last month.
This was a significant increase from the previous year when such donations amounted to less than £350,000.
The increase came despite increased pressure on the party to cut its ties to Russian oligarchs since the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury last year.
The news also comes with Johnson’s chief strategist, Dominic Cummings, under the spotlight after the Sunday Times reported claims from a whistleblower about “serious concerns” about the time he spent in Russia in the 1990s.
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