Parliament report condemns British government over Russian bill
By Stefan J. Bos
The report “Moscow's Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK,” notes that that Russian President Vladimir Putin's allies were able to continue "business as usual" in Britain, despite the harsh rhetoric over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain earlier this year.
And the committee says the use of London as a base for what "the corrupt assets of Kremlin-connected individuals" is part of a broader Russia strategy with implications for Britan's national security.
It adds that failing to act signals that in its words "the U.K. is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of President Putin's offensive measures."
But Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague who was one of the experts used for the report, also encouraged the government to look beyond the Russian billions laundered in Britain. "Let's very much see what we can do to starve the Kremlin as far as we can of all foreign assets that it can use for state purposes," he said.
"But at the same time why not make this part of a wider campaign to actually renovate the real values that we say are central to British culture?", Galeotti wondered.
However, British authorities claim they are tackling controversial billionaires: It has now emerged why Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich wasn't in the stands to see his Chelsea soccer club win England's FA Cup this weekend. Aids say his British visa expired last month and officials seem reluctant to renew it.
Abramovich, a former Russian governor who made his fortune in oil and gas in the 1990s, became the owner of the companies that control Chelsea in 2003.
The close ally of President Putin is reportedly Britain's 13th-richest man, with a net worth of £9.3 billion (more than $12 billion).
Britain recently pledged to review long-term visas of wealthy Russians in the aftermath of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
In recent days he was released from a hospital where he and his daughter were both in critical condition after they were targeted with a nerve agent in the cathedral city of Salisbury, in southwest England, on March 4.
The chemical was allegedly developed by Soviet scientists for battlefield use against Western troops.