Wife of ex-Putin ally has dinner with PM and six Cabinet ministers
The wife of a former Putin ally has had dinner with the Prime Minister and six Cabinet Ministers.
Banker Lubov Chernukhin was entertained by 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.
A photo of the group in a five star hotel in Belgravia was shared by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss on Monday.
The Instagram post 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, a former deputy finance minister under Mr Putin in the early 2000s, who fell out with the president after being dismissed from his job in charge of a state-run bank.
The couple moved to London and Mrs Chernukhin is a British citizen.
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.
Mrs Chernukhin was also entertained by former prime minister David Cameron and Boris Johnson five years ago, after bidding £160,000 in an auction.
And she shelled out £30,000 to have dinner with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson in the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall last year.
Electoral Commission records show she has made 34 donations to the party in the last seven years, 32 of which have been accepted.
However, an attempted cash donation of £10,000 was rejected and marked “Impermissible Donor” in 2012.
A Conservative spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
The Tories have previously defended taking money from Mrs Chernukhin and there is no suggestion that Mr and Mrs Chernukhin’s wealth is illegitimate.