Former banker Lubov Chernukhin, a major Conservative donor whose husband is a former deputy finance minister to President Putin, paid £160,000 for a match against David Cameron and Boris Johnson – in 2014
Image: Fulham Chronicles)
David Cameron has defended letting a Russian sponsor pay to play tennis with him, because they “don’t talk about Putin”.
Former banker Lubov Chernukhin, a major donor to the Conservative Party, whose husband is a former Deputy Finance Minister to President Putin, paid £160,000 for a showdown with the then Prime Minister in 2014.
Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, was also in on the game – an auction prize at the Summer Party.
A few days after the fundraising party, on 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 passenger jet was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists. control in Ukraine.
And just a few months earlier, Putin had faced international condemnation for his annexation of Crimea.
But speaking to Andrew Marr of LBC Radio today, the former Prime Minister insisted Ms Chernukhin had tried “totally not influence” UK policies towards Russia.
Asked if he remembers the match, he said: “I do, I remember – and there was absolutely no conversation about Russia, finance, Putin or anything else.”
“We have a very careful system in place to check who can and cannot give money to the Conservative Party.
“A small number of people have any connection to Russia, and as I am concerned, most of them are dissidents, usually Ukrainians.”
Chernukhin was born in Russia, studied in the US and became a British citizen in 2012.
She is legally eligible to vote and contribute to UK political parties and there has not been any hint of misconduct on her part.
Ms Chernukhin has repeatedly paid to gain access to the Prime Minister’s successor ministers in Party fundraising auctions, including an ‘overnight outing’ with Theresa May and Liz Truss, and dinner with then Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson and a second tennis match against Boris Johnson, after he became Prime Minister.
In total, Ms Chernukhin has given almost £2 million to the Conservatives – and is the largest female political donor in British history.
Mr Cameron continued: “But the point is here – Britain has the strongest anti-Putin policy of any country in Europe.
“Who threw him out of G8? Who insisted on sanctions? Who adopted beneficial ownership rules?
“So I think it’s a giant red herring to suggest in some way that Russian money is somehow influencing policy against Putin and Russia.”
He added that he was “the strongest ally in building a really strong case to hold Putin accountable.”
When asked what Ms. Chernukhin and other Russian foreign sponsors paid when they gave the party money, he replied: “Like many people come and live in this country and make it their home. them, they get into politics because they care about this. and make sure it’s an open, tolerant and democratic country. “
He said it had “absolutely no influence” on UK Russia policies.
On Tuesday evening, Ms Chernukhin was presented with the St Agnes Award, one of the highest honors awarded by the Republic of San Marino, at a ceremony in London.
The event was attended by a high-level government delegation from the micro-country, including Premier Francesco Mussoni and Giacomo Simoncini, two heads of state.
Tory MP Andrew Rossindell, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group in San Marino, attended the event and delivered a speech.
And on Wednesday morning, the delegation met Boris Johnson, who they described as “friendly”.
Earlier, Mr Cameron called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “phenomenon of lies”.
The Conservatives told LBC’s Tonight With Andrew Marr that when hosting the Russian president in No. 10 in 2013, Putin “was caught off guard and said, ‘I’m not a democrat basically and I do not share your benefits”.
Mr. Cameron added: “He was also a prodigious liar. I remember confronting him with evidence that Russian troops were in the Donbas, he lied. . . “
The former MP said Wednesday’s attack on a hospital in Mariupol was a “war crime”.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron-defends-tennis-game-26429267 David Cameron defends tennis match with Russian sponsor because they 'don't talk about Putin'