Donating "positions them to assist Russian influence operations"
The UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee has warned that Russians connected to Vladimir Putin influence UK politics through donating to political parties.
In its long-awaited report on Russian influence, the committee says: “Several members of the Russian elite who are closely linked to Putin are identified as being involved with charitable and/or political organisations in the UK, having donated to political parties, with a public profile which positions them to assist Russian influence operations.”
The report did not mention any specific donors or which party or parties they donate to. It added: “The extent to which Russian expatriates are using their access to UK businesses and politicians to exert influence in the UK is [redacted]: it is widely recognised that Russian intelligence and business are completely intertwined.”
Commenting, Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Super wealthy Russian oligarchs have bought swathes of London properties and donated to the Conservative party.”
According to Open Democracy, Russian donors have given £3.5m to the Conservative Party since 2010. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by any of these donors.
The report also looked into allegations that Russia influenced the 2016 Brexit referendum but most of this section was redacted. The report does say that the government has not seen or sought evidence of succesful Russian interference on UK elections.
In this section, the report noted that Arron Banks had given £8m to the Leave.EU campaign. Much of the report’s comments on this donation are redacted – although it notes that the National Crime Agency investigated Banks but did not find evidence he had committed a criminanl offence.
Joe Lo is a co-editor of Left Foot Forward