The following compares statements by two very disparate British commentators, Christopher Steele and the fictional reporter Johnathan Pie.
The notes below Sky News' April 1, 2022 Beth Rigby Interviews... : Ex British spy says he can't see a way back for Putin say that "Christopher Steele ran the Russia desk at MI6". After about 08:13 Sky News' political editor Beth Rigby asks him about prominent Russians active in London's political and business scene:
Rigby: And on the issue of how the west has acted to Putin, I want to ask you a bit about the relationship between the UK and Russia. And about Oligarchs and money - Russian money in London.
In the UK for years, you were monitoring Russia and the misdeeds of its spies like murdering people in the UK. And yet you also saw politicians and businessmen; they'd go into parties and holidaying with oligarchs. Do you think that the establishment here let themselves get seduced?
Steele: Absolutely. I think there were two things going on there. One is an element of naivety, because many of the Russians who come to London are very urbane, very convincing, very sort-of westernized. They don't represent the "real Russia" if you like. There is a dark side to Russia which not many people understand. Sadly I've been studying it for the last 20 years.
But I also think in addition to that, Russian money -- a wall of money that hit London; it wasn't just Russian but it was Russian money first I think -- sort-of set up a lobby, a group of interests who serviced this elite, who... the lawyers, the estate agents, the PR firms, and so on. And it became a pretty important part of our economy. And I suspect, also in terms of investment and so on, particularly after Brexit and what have you when we were looking for other forms of investment in the country.
This golden visa scheme which is now so controversial and in retrospect was such a bad mistake, grows out of that problem.
and in response to Rigby's questions about Evgeny Lebedev being "nominated for a life peerage by UK prime minister Boris Johnson" and and about other prominent Russian business people operating in London:
Steele: ...this is such a controversial appointment, and the story out there is that it was against the advice of the security services, so I think it's a pretty exceptional case. And there was a debate in Parliament the other day and I think probably the outcome of that should be more transparency.
Rigby: You have some experience, would you think that that has credibility; that the security services would have been anxious about this appointment?
Steele: I think any sort-of family member of a former KGB officer or a KGB agent -- and actually Lebedev is not the only one, there are quite a few former KGB officers who are quite prominent in Britain and in business here who need to be very closely looked at. And certainly it's surprising to me that the've managed to operate in the country in the way that they have.
From the New York Times; March 11, 2022 Opinion video Jonathan Pie: How Putin Weaponized London’s Greed | NYT Opinion after 00:26:
Pie: I don't really know what to say. For the first time in my career, there are no words or explitives that can do this situation justice.
and that not being very likely, he goes on to say
Here in the UK, we don't have quite the same problem. Only five percent of our gas comes from Russia. Here we're reliant on something far more precious -- Russian money.
For 20 years, Putin has been using illicit money to fund an oligarchy of billionaires to keep his corrupt regime in power. And for 20 years, those Kremlin-approved oligarchs have been coming here to "invest" their ill-gotten gains via a loophole that allows people to buy property in the UK anonymously.
[...] Welcome to Londongrad, Moscoow-on-Thaimes. Eighty-seven thousand homes in Britain were bought through off-shore companies by anonymous millionaires. At least 1.5 billion1 pounds' worth of those are owned by Russians with direct links to the Kremlin.
[...] We have let it happen for years, because it's because it's how the UK makes its money. It's the only industry we have left.
[...] Speaking of Boris Johnson, he's up to his (ears) in it as well. Since he became prime minister, Tories have accepted 2 million pounds in Russian donations. I know in American terms, 2 million is the political donation equivalent of tipping the bellboy, but here we're much more strict. We put a limit on the amount of dirty, illegal, kleptocratic money that our main political parties can take, which has an upside for Putin because it means British politicians are incredibly cheap to buy.
In 2020, 14 members of Johnson's government received Russian cash. The Tory party chairman even runs a luxury concierge service that helps oligarchs buy property in London.
How much "Russian money" have Russian oligarchs injected into the UK's economy and contributed to UK politicians? Pie offers some bits and pieces but at this point in time surely some authoritative source has compiled at least a rough enumeration.
1"billion pounds" Somebody help me here; is that one thousand million or one million million? update: comment suggest one thousand million.