Tag Archives: UK

UK: David Cameron ‘must answer for Russian oligarchs’ donations’


Ed Miliband particularly questions £160,000 donation Tories accepted from wife of former Russian finance minister.

, political correspondent
The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, made his comments on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1. Photograph: BBC/ReutersThe Labour leader, Ed Miliband, made his comments on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1. Photograph: BBC/Reuters

David Cameron has questions to answer over the money he is taking from Russian oligarchs, Ed Miliband has said.

The Labour leader particularly questioned the £160,000 donation the Conservatives accepted from the wife of a former Russian finance minister, who won an auction offering the chance to play tennis with Cameron and the London mayor, Boris Johnson.

Over the past week, the Tories have been under scrutiny over donations from people linked to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. The US and EU have imposed sanctions in reaction to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine.

Figures from the Electoral Commission show that the Conservatives have banked more than £161,000 from people with links to the Kremlin, and Labour has calculated that the Tories have received almost £1m from Russians in general.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, Miliband said the money should be returned.

“David Cameron does have questions to answer on the money that he’s taking from Russian oligarchs, on the bidding for a tennis match, all of that stuff. Frankly, he can’t stand up one minute and say that ‘this is the biggest issue and we’re going to take the right action’. He’s got to really look very, very carefully at who he is getting money from.”

Labour has called for Cameron to cancel his tennis match with Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of Vladamir Chernukhin, who was Putin’s deputy finance minister in 2000. She won the auction last month, but some MPs, both Labour and Conservative, have questioned whether the prime minister should accept the money while attacking the Kremlin over the Ukraine crisis. Cameron has told parliament that if Putin “does not change his approach to Ukraine … then Europe and the west must fundamentally change our approach to Russia”. A Tory spokesman said last week that no date had been set for the match but that “all donations are transparent and permissible under the rules set out by the Electoral Commission”.

Miliband also criticised the reaction of the EU to the Ukrainian situation, saying national leaders need to get more involved in discussions about sanctions against Russia. The UK has been pushing for tougher penalties against Russian business sectors, such as banking, defence and energy, but so far the sanctions have been limited to individuals and firms specifically linked to Putin and his government.

“We need action. We need a European Council,” Miliband said. “The heads of government of Europe should be meeting, they shouldn’t have been leaving it to foreign ministers. We need to raise the sanctions on Russia, on individual corporations that have been part of what happened around the big decisions that have been made. We need action on this.”

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, joined calls on Sunday for Russia to face the axe as hosts of the 2018 World Cup as part of tougher sanctions over the shooting down of flight MH17.

The Guardian.

Nick Clegg says Russia should not host World Cup 2018


Fifa has ruled out calls for boycott after the shooting down of MH17, insisting the tournament could be ‘a force for good’.

Nick Clegg believes it would be 'unthinkable' for the World Cup 2018 tournament to go ahead in Russia. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty ImagesNick Clegg believes it would be ‘unthinkable’ for the World Cup 2018 tournament to go ahead in Russia. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

Nick Clegg has joined calls for Russia to face the axe as hosts of the 2018 World Cup as part of tougher sanctions over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

The deputy prime minister said it was “unthinkable” at present that the tournament could go ahead in the country blamed by the west for supplying arms to the separatist rebels accused of causing the deaths of all 298 on board.

Football’s world governing body Fifa this week ruled out calls from some German politicians for Russia to be boycotted, insisting the tournament could be “a force for good“.

But Clegg told the Sunday Times that allowing it to go ahead without a change of course by president Vladimir Putin would make the world look “so weak and so insincere” in its condemnation of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for the rebels.

The EU has added another 15 individuals and 18 entities to the list of those subject to asset freezes and ambassadors in Brussels are expected to extend the punitive actions to state-owned banks’ access to capital markets and to the arms and energy sectors.

Clegg said however that sporting events should also be part of the package of measures – including the cancellation of Russia’s first F1 Grand Prix, which is due to take place in Sochi in October.

“Vladimir Putin himself has to understand that he can’t have his cake and eat it,” he said.

“He can’t constantly, you know, push the patience of the international community beyond breaking point, destabilise a neighbouring country, protect these armed separatists in the east of Ukraine and still have the privilege and honour of receiving all the accolades in 2018 for being the host nation of the World Cup.

“That’s why I’ve come to the view that if he doesn’t change course it’s just not on, the idea that Russia will host the World Cup in 2018.

“You can’t have this – the beautiful game marred by the ugly aggression of Russia on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

“Not only would Vladimir Putin exploit it, I think it would make the rest of the world look so weak and so insincere about our protestations about Vladimir Putin’s behaviour if we’re not prepared to pull the plug.

He said that despite F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s insistence that there was no case for abandoning the Grand Prix, “the question marks I’m raising will only increase over the next coming weeks and months, over the summer and up to the Grand Prix, about Russia’s entitlement to host these major events.

“Vladimir Putin is a past master at attending these sporting events and, sort of, pretending almost as if everything’s utterly normal and nothing untoward is happening around him.

“And if anyone needed any reminding of how dangerous this conflict is in the heart of Europe, just ask any of the family and relatives of those loved ones they lost in that plane incident last week.”

Clegg said the threat of withdrawing the World Cup would be “a very potent political and symbolic sanction”.

“If there’s one thing that Vladimir Putin cares about, as far as I can see, it’s his sense of status.

“Maybe reminding him that you can’t retain the same status in the world if you ignore the rest of the world, maybe that will have some effect on his thinking.”

He did not rule out the UK as an alternative host given its recent history of putting on successful global sporting events.

“We’ve got the stadiums, we’ve got the infrastructure, and we’ve got the public backing and enthusiasm to host it,” he said.

“That’s a decision for other people. But I’m not saying this just as a, sort of, British land grab to snatch the World Cup from under Vladimir Putin’s nose.”

He joined David Cameron’s criticism of the French deal to supply warships to Russia, saying it would be “wholly inappropriate” for it to proceed in the present circumstances.

“Whilst I can entirely understand that the French may have entered into that contract with the Russians in entirely different circumstances, it is wholly inappropriate to go ahead with that now,” he said.

“And as you know, the Prime Minister has reviewed the outstanding licenses that we have got to make sure that we deliver what we unilaterally announced back in March, which was that there would be no exports from Britain of arms products which could in any way fuel or fan the flames of the conflict in Ukraine.”

He said he had been assured by business secretary Vince Cable that “great care” was taken to check the remaining licences.

Clegg predicted that any adverse effects on EU member states of tougher economic sanctions against Russia would be “probably not very significant” and urged all countries to consider the wider benefit.

“We are now moving, I think, towards a situation – and both the prime minister and I would be united in this – in saying to other European Union leaders, look, even if this incurs short-term political damage to this economy or that economy, this sector or that sector, there is something bigger at stake here and it is the stability of the European continent.”

Clegg said the furore over the £160,000 paid in a Tory fundraising auction by the wife of a Russian oligarch who was a minister in Putin’s first government for a game of tennis with Cameron and Boris Johnson mostly demonstrated the need for reform of political party funding.

“They need to make their own judgments,” he said, when asked if his coalition partners should meet Labour demands to repay the money.

“But all parties … continue to be damaged because of the haphazard way which we have to go around fund raising,” he added – calling on both main parties to stop blocking reform.

The Guardian.

BBC News Magazine: The ship that totally failed to change the world


By Tammy Thueringer & Justin Parkinson
NS Savannah
Fifty years ago the world’s first nuclear-powered cargo-passenger ship sailed from the US to Europe on a publicity tour to persuade the world to embrace the atomic age. It didn’t quite work out like that.

Sleek in shape, painted red and white, its interior decorated in what was then ultra-modern chrome, the NS Savannah wasn’t quite like any other cargo ship.

It had facilities for passengers. The 600ft, 12,000-ton ship boasted a cinema, veranda bar and swimming pool. The cabins had no curtains. Instead, “polarised” windows, designed to cut glare, lined the sides of staterooms.

The ship was one of the few to spring directly from the imagination of a US president. In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower had made his famous Atoms for Peace speech, attempting to balance the growing fear of nuclear apocalypse with optimism about the possibility of civilian use of atomic energy.

And he wanted an atomic ship. A civilian one.

NS Savannah, 1962“A very attractive ship”: The NS Savannah, pictured in 1962

The NS Savannah, which cost $50m, was launched 55 years ago this week. It was to be an ambassador of sorts – the world’s first nuclear-propelled merchant ship and a symbol of safety and faith in the fuel of the future.

Stan Wheatley was one of those who was excited to be working on the ship. He was in the shipyard while the Savannah was built and served as the chief engineer on its maiden voyage. “The nuclear power system was a prototype, no question, but we were all trained well.”

Everyone was aware the ship was supposed to be a beautiful advertisement for nuclear energy.

“It represented the best-looking ship around and it still is a very attractive ship,” says Wheatley, now a member of the Savannah Association which works to preserve and protect the decommissioned ship that now sits at a port in Baltimore, Maryland.

Inside the NS Savannah's stateroomInside the NS Savannah’s stateroom
The Savannah's control roomThe Savannah’s control room
View from the Savannah's bridgeView from the Savannah’s bridge Continue reading

Backing #Russia into a corner will have consequences…


What does Vladimir Putin and a cornered rat have in commonWhat does Vladimir Putin and a cornered rat have in common?

World leaders need to come together and sit around the table themselves (not their elected representatives) and talk before this crisis reaches a point where there is no turning back.

Britain must speak up for democrats in Hong Kong


Originally posted on Cut to the Chase - Noah Sin's Blog:

331751563

Published on Independent Voices on 1st July 2014. An edited version was published in print in the iPaper on 2nd July 2014. Also published in The Gulf Today on 3rd July 2014.

Tens of thousands of protesters have braved blistering heat and then pouring rain this week to take to the streets of Hong Kong. Their mission: to secure democracy for a city of seven million people.

This is a city left behind. Ever since the former colony’s return to China, Hong Kong has been characterised as the last page of an era that belongs to the history books – the era of empire. Most Britons are ignorant of the fact that Britain – the signatory to the Sino-British Joint Declaration – remains legally liable to the implementation of the handover, including the protection of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

This is a people let down. When Margaret Thatcher bowed to…

View original 599 more words