A CLIP of Boris Johnson appearing uncomfortable and snarky over questions about Russia’s influence on British politics has resurfaced on social media following scrutiny of Kremlin-linked donations to his left.
the pictures from november 2017when Johnson was Foreign Secretary in Theresa May’s government, shows Labor MP Chris Bryant asking Johnson if he saw any evidence of Russian influence on UK referendums or elections.
READ MORE: What are the British Conservative Party’s links to Russian money and who are the donors?
“I haven’t seen any evidence of that,” he said, looking at his colleague sitting next to him.
“I can tell you Mr. Bryant that I don’t think… no, I didn’t see, not a sausage, niet.”
Bryant then asked if he believed the Kremlin had “sought” to play a role in the referendums or the elections.
Why is he so incredibly strange and uncomfortable with this line of questioning? pic.twitter.com/ngOw7ecPre
— Mike Galsworthy 🇺🇦 (@mikegalsworthy) March 5, 2022
Johnson then says, “I don’t know if one sought to play, but as far as I know they played no part.”
In 2020, a delayed report by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) found that the UK government should have recognized the threat that Russia would seek to influence voters “as early as 2014”, when the referendum on independence of the UK Scotland took place.
ISC members said there are many Russians with “very close ties” to Putin who are “well integrated into the British business and social scene”.
They warned that building links with Russian companies and ‘welcoming the oligarchs with open arms’ had been ‘counterproductive’ and had led to ‘illicit funding’ flowing through London – dubbed a ‘laundry ” and “Londongrad”.
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The integration of Russian influence, especially in the capital, is such that the actions of the British government to deal with it would not be “preventive”, but would rather represent “damage limitation”.
The ISC also warned that the UK government had “badly underestimated” the response needed to the threat from Russia and continued to “catch up”.
He claimed that the responsibility to defend the UK’s democratic processes from interference is treated as a “hot potato” by organizations in the country’s wider intelligence community.
Following the release of the report, Johnson, who was then prime minister, said there was no Western country more vigilant in protecting the interests of this country or the international community from Russian interference.”
In recent weeks, conservatives have been urged to direct donations received from Kremlin-linked figures to Ukrainian humanitarian causes.
Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir Chernukhin served as Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s deputy finance minister before moving to the UK in 2004, has given more than £2million to the Conservative Party since 2016.
Figures released by the Electoral Commission on Wednesday show Chernukhin donated an additional £80,250 to the party in the final months of 2021.
Conservatives have previously forbidden taking money from Chernukhin and there is no suggestion that she and her husband’s wealth are illegitimate.
Chernukhin has the right to donate to British political parties as she is a British citizen.
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labor Party, said: “The government’s dangerous ties to Putin’s cronies must be rooted out.
“If this government is serious about taking the toughest steps to eradicate Putin’s influence in Britain, it must first get its own house in order.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, a Ukrainian MP said the country felt “abandoned by the West” as she condemned the UK and US response to the Russian invasion.
Inna Sovsun, deputy leader of the Holos party, said the rollout of sanctions against Russia was not “keeping pace with the rollout of the atrocities of war”.
“Right now there’s this feeling of betrayal…and we feel let down by the West,” the 37-year-old said.
“We are extremely disappointed with both the UK government and the US government…we had hoped that the sanctions would be quicker and more crushing.
“Not a single pound should enter Russia right now – they will use it to buy weapons with which they will continue to kill Ukrainians.
“The deployment of the sanctions is not at the same speed as the deployment of the atrocities of the war that (Vladimir) Putin launched against us.”