LONDON – AFP: Despite his tough stance against Russia’s occupation of Ukraine, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced criticism for failing to address the influx of suspected Russian capital into London over the years, which is sometimes suspected of being used for political influence.
Johnson promised Moscow a “decisive” response, calling for it to be “severely attacked.” The conservative leader has shown determination since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, which culminated on Thursday with the launch of a military operation against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kiev.
However, Johnson has been criticized for pursuing more lenient policies towards suspicious Russian money used to infiltrate the UK’s financial or property markets or for political influence.
Hour of danger
Russian millionaires own huge fortunes and assets in the aristocratic neighborhoods of London, sometimes referred to as the “London Grad”. NGOs and British officials have warned of this. Some, like Roman Abramovich, own a football club that plays in the English Premier League, and their children attend elite schools.
As it was announced yesterday that Britain would increase military aid to Kiev and prepare for new sanctions against Moscow, Johnson revealed an additional delay in the long-awaited economic crimes bill, which would increase transparency, especially in the role of British companies owned by Russian businessmen. .
“Russian money must be prevented from corruption in London and any other financial capital,” he told parliament, urging New York, Paris and other global financial centers to join the sanctions effort. “No country has done better than the UK to tackle this problem,” he said.
But with the imposition of the first round of sanctions on Russian interests on Tuesday in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the UK is less inclined against Moscow than the EU.
Britain targeted five banks and three Russian businessmen, while Europeans imposed sanctions on 23 key figures, including the defense minister and 351 delegates, besides the banks.
Conservative Party gain
However, numerous studies show that the “Londongrade” phenomenon has grown, triggered by a number of companies working in the service sector, including large banks, accounting firms, lawyers, real estate agents and public relations consultants.
Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, which has been in power since 2019, has received donations from wealthy donors, some of them from Russia.
“All they want is to play tennis with Boris or have dinner with him,” said Thomas Mane, an expert on corruption in Russia and Central Asia at the Saddam House in London.
“But the question that needs to be asked is, where does their true faith come from, and where does their money come from,” he told the AFP.
Relations between London and Moscow have been waiting until last week for London to cancel “gold visas” issued to wealthy investors for security reasons, after reaching a very low level several years after former Russian spies were poisoned on British soil.
Vladimir Chernukin, a former minister in Putin’s government, and his wife, Lyubov, benefited from the policy and later became British citizens.
According to the Sunday Times, Lyubov has paid க 2 million ($ 2.66 million) to the Conservative Party since 2012.
“How can the allies believe that the Prime Minister, who has not even cleaned up his own political party, will clean up this dirty Russian money in the UK?” Asked Ian Blackford, leader of the Scottish National Party.
Conservatives claim that donations meet legal requirements, are publicly reported, and receive only from British citizens or companies in the UK.
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