Tom Brake Accepted Donation From Kremlin-Linked Big Oil Firm

Tom Brake has become the latest Lib Dem to dabble in climate hypocrisy, after Guido revealed Jo Swinson’s fracking cash. Last month Tom Brake flew to Russia at the expense of big oil company Total IPG Russia, just weeks before calling on the Prime Minister to tell Trump that there must be “no back-tracking on climate change & no cosying up to Putin”. His big oil funded all-expenses-paid trip came at the expense of a company who are drilling the Arctic for over four billion barrels of oil equivalent and have ties to the Kremlin.

This is just the latest bout of hypocrisy to hit the Lib Dems’ “climate emergency” campaign after they approved a massive new coal mine earlier this year. When it comes to climate it’s one rule for the Lib Dems and another rule for everyone else…

UPDATE: Tom Brake gets in touch to say

“… This is my entry (an error was made in reporting to me who had paid for different elements of the trip which has been corrected in this entry).  Flights etc were paid for by Pluteos AG.  The only thing that was paid for by Total was a lunch at the French Embassy which cost less per head than the reporting threshold.”

Pluteos is one of those consultancies run by ex-spooks that do discreet business for clients with geo-political concerns, clients like oil corporations. So no transparency there…

Corbyn’s Russian Cash Connection

New details from the Electoral Commission show that the Labour Party received Russian linked money.

Room One Limited, donated £12,500.00 to the Labour party in the second quarter of 2018. They own a 50% stake in a recently dissolved company Room One 360 Limited. The other 50 per cent was held by a Russian Technology company, EYEDENTITY360 who operate out of Tver in Western Russia. Both Room One Limited and Room One 360 Limited shared a Director and operated out of the same London Address.

Russian influence in the Corbynsphere is nothing new

Russian-Linked Twitter Accounts Pushing #ResignWatson

Last week Guido reported that analysis by the respected international think tank the Alliance for Securing Democracy had found that the #WeAreCorbyn hashtag was being pushed by Twitter accounts known to be linked to Russian state. Now the same think tank, whose esteemed bipartisan advisory council includes former world leaders as well as cabinet secretaries from the Obama and Bush administrations, says the same is happening with the #ResignWatson hashtag. It is the second top hashtag used in the last 48 hours by a monitored set of Russian-linked accounts:

And it is the top trending hashtag with the highest percentage increase over the last 48 hours among the monitored accounts:

As always, Guido highly doubts the intervention of Russian-backed accounts on any topic makes much difference. Though no doubt who they are backing over the last week…

#WeAreCorbyn Backed By Russian-Linked Twitter Accounts

Analysis by the respected international think tank the Alliance for Securing Democracy has found that Jeremy Corbyn is being backed by an army of Russian linked Twitter accounts. The alliance, whose esteemed bipartisan advisory council includes former world leaders as well as cabinet secretaries from the Obama and Bush administrations, tracks Russian influence operations on Twitter.

Of all the trends among Twitter accounts known to be linked to Russian state over the last 48 hours, by far and away the highest social media influence priority was pushing the #WeAreCorbyn hashtag.

Will Carole Cadwalladr pick up on this?

Putin: I Wanted Trump to Win

Top Tory’s Russia Lobbyists Investigated By Mueller

Tory peer Greg Barker’s Russian dirty money fiasco is going from bad to worse. First, his boss Oleg Deripaska was whacked with sanctions by the US government, with shares in Barker’s En+ then plummeting. Next, the Foreign Affairs select committee condemned the flotation of En+ on the London Stock Exchange, with MI6 and US security officials expressing concerns about the IPO. So you can see why Barker would want to hire a lobbying firm to help him fight the sanctions…

Unfortunately, the firm Barker has chosen, Mercury Public Affairs, which is charging En+ more than $100,000 a month, is the subject of two subpoenas from Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian links to the Trump campaign. The Washington Post reported:

The investigators asked Mercury for information about their public relations work at Manafort’s behest for a Brussels-based organization called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which pushed for improved relations between Ukraine and European countries. The Brussels group primarily advanced the interests of a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party that had been a client of Manafort’s before he joined the Trump campaign.

So the firm Barker has brought in to spin for him amid allegations of links to Russia is itself being investigated for its own links to Russia. Quite a run of bad luck for Greg…

Damian Collins Accepts Donation From Russian Billionaire Friend of Putin

Grandstanding select committee chairman Damian Collins has spent the last year chasing headlines about Russian interference in British politics. So it’s a bit rich of him to be taking donations from a Russian billionaire who is a close ally of Vladimir Putin…

The latest Register of Members’ Interests reveals that Collins accepted two tickets worth £1,000 to a football match at Stamford Bridge paid for by Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea FC. Abramovich has since had his visa renewal application delayed by the UK government, reportedly due to his close links to Putin. The oligarch was described by the Guardian last month as a “big Kremlin player”. Perhaps Collins should write himself one of his famous letters…

Top Tory’s Firm Implicated in Russian Dirty Money Report

Russophile former Tory minister Greg Barker’s firm EN+ has been implicated in the Foreign Affairs select committee report into dirty Russian money in London. Lord Barker’s primary role as chairman of EN+ was to give the group a veneer of respectability and to reassure the City as the Russian energy and aluminium producer listed on the London Stock Exchange last year. Then last month, Barker’s boss Oleg Deripaska was whacked with sanctions by the US government and accused of “benefiting from the Putin regime and playing a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”. While the FASC report says “there is no evidence of impropriety in the legal sense”, it is damning of the EN+ flotation on the LSE:

The flotation of En+ Group on the London Stock Exchange in November 2017, which raised around £1bn in share sales, provides an example of the contradictions inherent in UK Government policy towards Russia…

In February 2018, press reports emerged suggesting that both MI6 and US security officials had expressed serious concern about the IPO. One unnamed US official reportedly told the Telegraph: “What is the point of the U.S. imposing sanctions on Russia if the Russians can then get round them in Britain?”…

the ease with which such large-scale transactions occur also sends political messages that undermine the Government’s condemnation of what the Prime Minister has called the “well-established pattern of Russian state aggression”, encouraging President Putin and his associates to conclude that the money supporting that aggression is safe and welcome in London…

The use of London as a base for the corrupt assets of Kremlin-connected individuals is now clearly linked to a wider Russian strategy and has implications for our national security. Combating it should be a major UK foreign policy priority. The assets stored and laundered in London both directly and indirectly support President Putin’s campaign to subvert the international rules-based system, undermine our allies, and erode the mutually-reinforcing international networks that support UK foreign policy. The size of London’s financial markets and their importance to Russian investors gives the UK considerable leverage over the Kremlin. But turning a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption risks signalling that the UK is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of President Putin’s offensive measures.

We call on the Government to investigate the gaps in the sanctions regime that allowed a company such as En+ to float on the London Stock Exchange, and to work with the G7, whose markets dominate the financial world, and other international partners, to close those gaps as soon as possible.

Barker should be under pressure to resign over this scandal but has been let off the hook as ministers and Tory MPs have failed to criticise him. How can the Tories be claiming to take dirty Russian money in London seriously when they stayed silent as one of their own helped float a Putin crony’s company in London?

Thornberry: I Don’t Accept Russia is Blocking Chemical Weapons Inspectors

Thornberry has been listening to Seumas again. The audience wasn’t impressed…

Boris: “Extraordinary” to Deny Russian Responsibility For Salisbury Attack

He says the Russians are “demented” for claiming Britain did it…

Corbyn Not Yet Convinced Russia Did Salisbury Attack

Not sure who else he thinks it could’ve been…

He also isn’t convinced the Assad regime was responsible for the Douma gas attack either, saying that Assad “or any other group” that carried it out must be confronted with evidence.

There’s a theme here…

Greg Barker’s Firm Shares Plummet After Russian Oligarch Boss Sanctioned By Trump

Last month Guido reported on how Russophile former Tory minister Greg Barker was working for Oleg Deripaska as chairman of En+ Group. Well, since then Deripaska was whacked with sanctions by President Trump and accused by the US of “benefiting from the Putin regime and playing a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”. Bad news for Barker’s En+, whose shares plummeted 22% on Friday and fell another 17% today.

Barker is one Tory who knows sanctions against Russian wrong ‘uns work…

Kremlin’s Corbynista Useful Idiots

Chris Williamson’s Russia Today interview is being broadcast on the Russian state news agency TASS this evening, complete with Russian subtitles. He argues the UK government is using the Skripal attack to distract from Brexit, which is literally a Kremlin line to take. Meanwhile Corbyn Twitter outrider Aaron Bastani says it could have been done by Israel:

Is it a full moon?

Weapons-Grade Clusterf**k

Got to hand it to this government, who true to form have managed to turn the one positive narrative they’ve had in months into a total omnishambles. This incorrect FCO tweet from two weeks ago claiming Porton Down experts had determined the Novichok was made in Russia has been deleted.[…] Read the rest

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US and 14 EU Member States Agree to Expel Russian Diplomats

This has to be one of the most major foreign policy coups in years:

  • Trump has ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the US
  • Germany and France to deport four Russian diplomats each
  • Total of 14 EU Member States agree to expel Russian diplomats
  • Ukraine is expelling 13 Russian diplomats
  • Czech Republic – 3
  • Lithuania – 3
  • Latvia – 1
  • Poland – 4

One of the biggest wins of the May premiership.[…] Read the rest

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Corbyn Blasts UK Government For Criticising Russia

“I’m not sure that the language used by some of our ministers is particularly helpful or sensible,” says Jezza.[…] Read the rest

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Corbyn: I Would Do Business With Putin and Send Russia Novichok Samples

Jeremy Corbyn has told Wato: “Would I do business with Putin? Sure.” and repeated his call to give Russia a sample of the Novichok used on the Skripals. He again stopped short of blaming the Kremlin. When Russia say it isn’t their Novichok, is Corbyn going to believe them?[…] Read the rest

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Ex-Kremlin Adviser: Corbyn Was Right

Former Kremlin adviser and all-round nutjob Alexander Nekrassov tells Good Morning Britain “Jeremy Corbyn was right”. He even says there is no evidence the Skripals were even attacked. As if further proof were needed that Jezza and Seumas are Russia’s not-very useful idiots…[…] Read the rest

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Boris: Putin Made Decision

“We think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK.”

Over to you Seumas…[…] Read the rest

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Now Starmer Abandons Jezza over Russia

Keir Starmer is the most senior Shadow Cabinet minister so far to publicly abandon Jeremy Corbyn over his position on Russia.[…] Read the rest

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Seen Elsewhere