Boris Johnson’s decision to block the publication of a report into Russian election interference earlier this month has thrown the spotlight on the links between the prime minister’s Conservative Party and Russia.
The Sunday Times reported earlier this month that Johnson had blocked the report’s publication due to fears that it would reveal links between major Conservative donors and the Russian secret service.
These links continue to be the subject of controversy.
Last week the Electoral Commission revealed that the single largest donation during this campaign was from the wife of a former Russian minister and ally of Putin.
Johnson himself has also previously come under scrutiny for his own links to Russia and has been photographed meeting with two figures with alleged links to the Russian security services.
Here are the key Russian figures linked to Johnson.
Boris Johnson and Sergei Nalobin
The key figure in Russian efforts to forge links with the Conservative party over recent years was the Russian diplomat Sergei Nalobin. According to The Guardian, Nalobin, whose father was a former KGB general, had close ties to the Russian security services. Nalobin was reportedly instrumental in establishing the now-defunct Conservative Friends of Russia Group and invited members from the group to a 10-day trip to the country paid for by the Russian government.
When Johnson was mayor of London, Nalobin also tweeted a picture of himself alongside Boris Johnson, who he described in the now-deleted tweet as his “good friend.”
Asked about the photo at the time, a source close to Johnson told Business Insider that he “meets hundreds of people at numerous events he attends every month. He does not remember meeting Mr Nalobin and would not describe him as a friend.”
Mueller Testifies On Investigation Into Election Interference Before House Committees in front of a picture of Boris Johnson and Joseph Mifsud.
Two years ago a photo emerged of the then Foreign Secretary meeting with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic with alleged high-level links to the Putin regime.
Mifsud was named in the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s links with Russia. The Guardian reported that federal investigators believed that Mifsud was a go-between for Russia and Trump and “told a young Trump campaign adviser that the Kremlin had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.”
A photo of Mifsud meeting Johnson was subsequently used as a piece of evidence in the US Mueller inquiry.
Before the photo was published Johnson initially denied ever meeting Mifsud.
However, following the publication of the photo Johnson’s spokesperson changed their position and said that Johnson had never “knowingly” met Mifsud.
One of Johnson’s closest media relationships is with the editor of the Evening Standard and Independent Evgeny Lebedev, whose father Alexander is a former KGB agent.
Evgeny has repeatedly hosted Johnson for parties at his castle in Perugia Italy, while Johnson was mayor of London and Foreign Secretary.
Johnson’s former register of interest in London’s City Hall listed repeated his attendance at the events, alongside former Evening Standard editor and current editor of the BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme Sarah Sands.
Concerns were reportedly raised within Theresa May’s government about Johnson’s decision to attend the events, at which other guests have claimed that “nothing is off the menu from the moment you are greeted to the moment you leave.”
Fears were also raised that Johnson’s private life may make him a “security risk” due to the possibility he could be blackmailed.
“There’s the danger that people leak what they have over him or blackmail him with it,” a Cabinet minister in Theresa May’s government told the Sunday Times earlier this year.