Ex-Putin crony’s wife paid £135,000 for dinner with Theresa May at posh Tory fundraiser

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THE WIFE of a former ally of Vladimir Putin was entertained by the Prime Minister and six Cabinet Ministers at the five-star Goring Hotel in Belgravia.

Lubov Chernukhin, a banker, had dinner with Theresa May after donating £135,000 at a Tory fundraiser – despite the Prime Minister pledging to crack down on Russian influence after the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Lubov Chernukhin stood to the right of Prime Minister at the five-star Goring Hotel

A photo of the group in the hotel across the road from Buckingham Palace was posted by Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on Monday to her 6,785 followers on Instagram.

The photo, published by the Daily Mail, shows Mrs Chernukhin shoulder to shoulder with Mrs May, who is alongside Ms Truss, Andrea Leadsom, Amber Rudd, Caroline Nokes, Karen Bradley and Baroness Evans.

Ms Truss captioned the post: “And it’s ladies night, cabinetandfriends, girlpower.”

Mrs Chernukhin is married to Vladimir Chernukhin, who served as deputy finance minister under Mr Putin until 2004, who fell out with the president after being fired from his job in charge of a state-run bank.

The couple moved to London and Mrs Chernukhin is a British citizen.

DONATIONS TOP £1M

But it is understood her donations to the Tories in the last seven years have now topped £1 million, raising fresh concerns over the party’s links to Russia.

In 2014 Mrs Chernukhin paid £160,000 for the “ultimate tennis match” with former prime minister David Cameron and Boris Johnson during a fundraising bash at the Hurlingham club.

Mr Cameron faced criticism at the time for not handing back the money but insisted the Kremlin-linked oligarch “certainly isn’t” a Putin crony.

Last year Mrs Chernukhin forked out £30,000 to have dinner with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson in the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall.

Electoral Commission records show she has made 34 donations to the party in the last seven years, 32 of which have been accepted.

An auctioned game of tennis with David Cameron and Boris Johnson was won by Mrs Chernukhin in 2014 with a £160,000 bid

However, an attempted cash donation of £10,000 was rejected and marked “Impermissible Donor” in 2012.

Two months ago Steward McDonald, the SNP MP, wrote to Mrs May and asked her to hand back money received from Mrs Chernukhin.

Mr McDonald, an outspoken critic of Russian interference in British politics, referred to the Salisbury attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the father and daughter poisoned with Novichok.

Dawn Sturgess, who was later exposed to the nerve agent, died.

He said: “After the murder of a British citizen on UK soil that you have concluded was carried out by a government Mr Chernukhin once served in, it is objectionable to the point of vulgarity that you would consider the continuation of this financial relationship appropriate.”


A Conservative spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

The Tories have previously defended taking money from Mrs Chernukhin.

There is no suggestion Mr and Mrs Chernukhin’s wealth is illegitimate.


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