July 23, 2020
Wealthy Russian-linked donors give money to the Conservative Party simply out of “admiration” for Tory ministers, Brandon Lewis has claimed.
Russian-Linked Donors Give Tories Money Simply Out Of Admiration, Says Minister
The Northern Ireland secretary is reported to have received £25,000 from Lubov Chernukhin, a banker and the wife of President Vladimir Putin’s former deputy finance minister, and £23,000 from Alexander Temerko, a former chief of a Russian arms company.
According to The Times another 13 cabinet ministers have also received large sums of money. 
Lewis, a former Tory party chair, defended the donations as “properly declared”.
“I think we need to be fairly clear about this so we don’t get the facts wrong – these are British citizens,” he told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Thursday morning. “We do not accept funds from foreign nationals.
“I would absolutely defend the right of any British citizen, including the people you’ve outlined who have donated to myself and others, to play their full part in our democracy.
“That doesn’t just mean voting, that means supporting, if they want to, political parties and political candidates, and I’m very proud of the fact that, as a country, we allow British citizens to do that.”
Asked if he thought the donors “just do it for love of the Conservative Party and admiration of individual ministers”, Lewis said: “I think they do.”
“You think hard-nosed businessmen and Women give hundreds of thousands of pounds of their hard earned money simply because they are lost in admiration for the Conservative party?” Lewis was asked.
He said: “We see donations coming in from people across British society.
“I defend all British citizens’ rights to promote, support and vote for whichever party they want to.”
It comes after the government was accused of being too slow to recognise the potential threat posed by Russia to British Democratic processes.
In a damning report, parliament’s intelligence and security committee said the government did not properly consider whether Moscow could interfere in the Brexit referendum until after the event.
The government has said there was “no evidence” of successful Russian interference but the committee – which oversees the work of Britain’s spies – suggested that there was no proper investigation.Related... Brits Were Too Smart To Fall For Russian Brexit Bots, Says Minister Boris Johnson Warns Tory MPs The UK Could Suffer A Second Coronavirus Spike Spy Agencies 'Didn't Do Enough To Protect Brexit Vote From Russian Interference'
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