London party

Why did Russian oligarchs flock to London? To launder their dirty money

THE sanctions against Putin’s cronies are biting. The huge luxury yachts of the Russian oligarchs flee to the Maldives, which has no extradition agreements, etc. with the US, EU and other sanctioning bodies. Another oligarch’s luxury yacht is stranded, out of fuel, in Norway, with no one willing to give them fuel.

In fact, this means that many of these yachts have become mere glitzy floating prisons or useless and extremely expensive white elephants to hide.

Opportunities for oligarchs to ostentatious luxury shopping for exclusive high-end brands are very limited in the Maldives. You can buy handcrafted souvenirs made by the locals, but jewelry, watches and fashion are not there.

Flying in a private jet to London, New York, Paris or Milan to feed their addiction to extreme luxury risks being seized. Slowly, the world of Russian oligarchs is shrinking around them. Restricted airspace and the falling value of the ruble mean returns to Russia are highly unlikely.

The Russian oligarchs are stuck, increasingly seen as pariahs, dependent on the flexible and accommodating Boris Johnson. Squatters are even moving into their frozen assets, their abandoned mansions.

But where do their billions come from? Where does Vladimir Putin’s reputed $200 billion fortune come from?

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russian mafia flourished. As the recent Panorama TV show on Roman Abramovich showed, these were dodgy deals, grabbing Russia’s rich natural assets at often ridiculous prices. It was the Russian people who lost, ripped off by the potential oligarchs.

In the Soviet Union, 40 years ago, the Russian health service was highly valued. It has now slipped to 58th out of 89 countries, scoring low also for the quality of its infrastructure.

Outside the big cities, public hospitals are rare. An investigation by Russian health services revealed filthy hospitals, crumbling buildings and even drunken doctors and paramedics.

The latest figures from the World Health Organization show that life expectancy for Russians is just 71.9 years – for men only 66.4 years – which puts the country 105th in the world!

The Russian oligarchs are parasites who have embezzled money that otherwise would have benefited the Russian people.

Vladimir Putin encouraged and allowed this, as long as he got his substantial share.

Corruption and sordidness explain why these oligarchs came to London, to launder their dirty money. Boris Johnson shamelessly got close to them, even gave one a peerage (interestingly Baron Lebedev of Siberia calls his dog Boris!)

In return, the oligarchs gave millions to the Conservative Party.

They threw lavish parties, one in Italy attended by Johnson, when the Foreign Secretary, without Foreign Office personnel or security, raised questions, particularly when he was seen collapsed at the airport afterwards, waiting for a flight home, looking like he had slept in his clothes!

Was the deep-rooted corruption among Tory MPs over Covid inspired by the corruption of Russian oligarchs? Did they give advice on how to loot the UK funding system?

Was the slow implementation of sanctions against Russian oligarchs, and then the apparent reluctance to admit war refugees to Ukraine, an indication of the power and influence of Russian money in London and the government? conservative ?

The fact that such questions need to be asked shows the dark shadow that Russian influence casts on our democracy.

Andre Milroy

Trowbridge