Boris Johnson ‘Bending Rules’ to Protect Alexander Lebedev as Russian Oligarch Cuts UK Ties
The Former KGB officer appears to be cutting his financial ties to the UK as Johnson’s Government refuses to join Canada in sanctioning him, reports Adam Bienkov
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Boris Johnson has been accused by Labour of “bending the rules” to protect his personal associate, the Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev, as the former KGV officer continues to cut his financial ties to the UK.
Lebedev was recently sanctioned by the Canadian Government which described him as one of the “key members of Putin’s inner circle” who had “directly enabled Vladimir Putin’s senseless war in Ukraine”.
However, Johnson’s Government has so far refused to take any similar action against Lebedev, whose son Evgeny is a close friend of the Prime Minister.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister told Byline Times last week that the UK had taken a “different judgement” about Lebedev to their Canadian allies.
However, the refusal means that Alexander Lebedev has been free to cut his financial ties with the UK.
Companies House records show that two days after Canada announced they would be sanctioning him, Lebedev ceased to be a director of Independent Print Limited.
The company is connected to the Independent Newspaper, which is partly owned by his son Evgeny Lebedev.
Records seen by Byline Times show that within days Alexander Lebedev had also cut his connections to the Lebedev Foundation charity, which has now applied to be struck off the register.
Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner told Byline Times that the Government were being “too slow and too soft” to target Lebedev and others linked to Putin.
“The Conservatives have been too slow and too soft in issuing sanctions to those with links to Putin”, she said.
“Following UK Ministers’ repeated refusal to follow Canada’s lead in sanctioning Alexander Lebedev, it now appears this former KGB agent and longstanding acquaintance of Boris Johnson is being allowed to move his cash with impunity before Ministers of the Crown take any action.
“This looks like yet another case of this Prime Minister bending the rules to protect his friends.”
Johnson has met with Alexander Lebedev on multiple occasions, including at a party held by his son Evgeny in his Italian villa.
In 2018, the then Foreign Secretary left his security detail behind in order to attend the event, held just days after a Nato meeting to discuss Russia’s poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the UK.
Johnson also ennobled Alexander’s son Evgeny in 2020, despite warnings by the UK’s security services.
Multiple reports suggest that MI6 initially advised against Lebedev’s appointment due to concerns about Alexander Lebedev’s suspected links to Putin.
As Byline Times first reported, this advice was changed following a private meeting between Evgeny Lebedev and Johnson, of which no minutes were kept.
The Prime Minister recently refused to comply with a vote by MPs ordering him to release details of the advice he received from the security services against placing Evgeny in the House of Lords.
The Labour Party accused the Government of a “cover-up” for refusing to release the information.
Correspondence revealed by Byline Times earlier this year showed how Evgeny Lebedev built a close relationship with Johnson over the course of a decade.
The letters show that Lebedev lobbied Johnson to support a new Russian arts festival while he was Mayor of London, which he said had “substantial support from the Russian Government”.
Johnson, who attended dozens of dinners, parties, drinks and meetings with Lebedev during that period also told the newspaper proprietor that he would “thrilled” to secure his support.