The oligarch who hedges his bets

Three leading Russian oligarchs – Len Blavatnik, Mikhail Fridman, and Viktor Vekselberg – with then BP chairman John Browne (second right).

Today Spanish police seized a £70m ‘superyacht’ belonging to one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarch cronies.

Tango is registered in the British Virgin Islands – one of the favourite havens for shady international tycoons – and belongs to Viktor Vekselberg, son of a Ukrainian Jew and a Russian. Since 1990 Vekselberg has been head of the Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate with interests in aluminium, oil and other sectors. He has been subject to international sanctions due to his close Kremlin ties.

According to several investigators, Vekselberg’s most interesting international role has been as the man who does the dirty work for Sir Len Blavatnik, his business partner, co-founder of the Renova Group and closest friend since their schooldays.

Viktor Vekselberg being decorated by his patron Vladimir Putin

While Vekselberg has been sanctioned, Blavatnik has earned a teflon reputation which might be connected to his remarkable talent for backing opposite political sides and remaining close to power.

Blavatnik has at various times backed pro- and anti-Netanyahu factions in Israel; Tony Blair in the UK; Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Joe Biden in the USA. In 2015 a group of international scholars condemned Oxford University for accepting Blavatnik’s money to fund the ‘Blavatnik School of Government’.

Blavatnik however insists that he has distanced himself from Putin, and the likes of Tony Blair and his ‘charitable foundations’ have continued to work closely with the Blavatnik School of Government. Meanwhile Blavatnik has continued to be one of the world’s leading sponsors of ‘Holocaust’ education, including a recent international conference to celebrate “the nearly 1.5 million Jewish men and women who fought in World War II against Adolf Hitler and the Axis powers.” H&D will soon be analysing some of the interesting omissions from this ‘history’!

Perhaps the ambiguities of Blavatnik’s own position will never be fully resolved, but as the Kremlin’s brutality continues in Ukraine, the likes of Tony Blair are feeling increasingly nervous about their ties to Putin’s oligarchs. Whatever their politics, Western politicians (including some so-called ‘nationalists’) have been happy to stick their snouts in the Kremlin trough.

Len Blavatnik with Bill Clinton, one of many political leaders (often of opposing tendencies) whom he has sponsored.

Putin’s London oligarchs: the dishonouring of Britain’s ‘elite’

The story as it appeared in early editions of today’s Sunday Times

This morning’s Sunday Times front page reports that MI5 and MI6 – Britain’s security and intelligence services – objected to the peerage awarded 18 months ago to Evgeny Lebedev, Russian owner of London’s Evening Standard.

Lebedev owes his fortune to his father Alexander, a prominent oligarch and former KGB officer who was in charge of the KGB’s station in London at the end of the Soviet era in the late 1980s, the period when a young Vladimir Putin was number two in the equivalent station in Dresden. As is often the case in the complex politics of post-Soviet Russia, Alexander Lebedev was briefly an enemy of Putin’s but then changed sides and became what one former MI6 officer has called “a craven supporter” of the Kremlin godfather.

Evgeny Lebedev (above centre) with the Prime Minister and his sister Rachel Johnson

Lebedev junior has been a good friend of Prime Minister Boris Johnson for more than a decade, ever since his strong support for Johnson first term as Mayor of London and his re-election campaign in 2012.

According to this morning’s Sunday Times, Johnson exerted pressure on MI5 and MI6 to withdraw their objections to Lebedev’s peerage, and they duly did so. His elevation was announced in July 2020 and he officially took his seat as Lord Lebedev in November that year.

Maundy Gregory, the first of several sinister intermediaries who have fixed the sale of honours on behalf of British political leaders

The blatant sale of honours (up to and including knighthoods and peerages) has been an intermittent feature of British political life since the early 1920s, when Prime Minister David Lloyd George marketed such baubles to political donors via a shady coterie of corrupt businessmen including Maundy Gregory, a theatrical producer and newspaper owner who used his network of homosexual associates to obtain blackmail opportunities for British intelligence.

These schemes became so notoriously disgraceful that a special law was brought in to criminalise such behaviour: the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. Maundy Gregory himself is the only person to have been convicted under this law – he was jailed for two months in 1933. Gregory’s death remains mysterious. He was reportedly captured by German forces after the French surrender in 1940, and possibly died in an internment camp the following year, but there has never been any official confirmation.

For forty years after Lloyd George there were few if any scandals surrounding honours, until the arrival of Britain’s most pro-Zionist Prime Minister, Labour’s Harold Wilson and his notorious political secretary Marcia Williams (herself ennobled as Lady Falkender).

Harold Wilson (above right) with his political secretary Marcia Williams, later Lady Falkender: the 1976 Honours List that they compiled was until today the most notorious in British history

Wilson and Falkender lavished honours upon corrupt Jewish businessmen who had either donated money to the Labour Party or provided them with personal favours. Many of the beneficiaries had ties to Israel’s intelligence service Mossad, and at least two of those elevated to the Lords – Joseph Kagan and Rudy Sternberg – were suspected of links to the KGB or other Soviet bloc services.

Heritage and Destiny has carried out extensive investigations into the Wilson-Falkender ties to Israeli interests, as readers will learn in a forthcoming book by our assistant editor.

In one important respect, Johnson’s government is even worse than Wilson’s, whose most notorious apparent sales of honours followed his still-mysterious resignation in 1976 – known as the “Lavender List” because Lady Falkender supposedly compiled it on her personal notepaper.

Despite their corruption, Wilson and Falkender did give in to pressure from the honours scrutiny committee and removed three names. One of those removed was the boxing promoter Jarvis Astaire, who was one of many Jews with shady connections who had donated to Wilson’s party coffers and had been suggested for a knighthood. A later pro-Zionist Labour Prime Minister – Tony Blair – eventually gave Astaire a slightly lesser honour, an OBE, in 2003.

Blair’s own government was for some time embroiled in allegations surrounding the sale of honours, involving several prominent Zionist lobbyists close to Labour’s then-leader.

Joseph Kagan – Jewish tycoon and suspected Soviet agent – was among those ennobled by Wilson and Falkender. Official files on Kagan requested by H&D remain secret

Another name that Wilson agreed to remove was Illtyd Harrington, deputy leader of the Greater London Council, whom he had suggested for a peerage. In Harrington’s case there were probably two problems: first he was openly homosexual (which in those days was considered more scandalous than it would be today), and secondly his father had been an active communist who fought with the communist-controlled International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, and would certainly have had an MI5 file.

Lord Lebedev is also widely assumed to be a homosexual, but in today’s world MI5 and MI6 objections would not have been related to his private life, unless they were concerned that his famously lavish parties had been used to promote Vladimir Putin’s interests.

When Lebedev’s ex-KGB father first purchased the London Evening Standard in 2009, then Secretary of State for Business Peter Mandelson turned down requests for the British government to intervene. Mandelson is a close associate of another Putin oligarch, Oleg Deripaska.

Peter Mandelson (above second left) – former cabinet minister and then EU trade commissioner – visiting a Siberian aluminium smelter in 2005 with influential friends (left to right): Peter Munk (died 2018), chairman of the world’s largest gold mining company; Oleg Deripaska, prominent oligarch and ally of Vladimir Putin; and Nat Rothschild, billionaire financier. Can readers guess what these four men have in common?

Now that the Sunday Times has made these allegations, and given that ordinary Britons will inevitably pay a heavy price in their shopping and utility bills for Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, it is surely imperative for the Johnson Government to publish all relevant documents about the Lebedev peerage and be completely open about the Prime Minister’s friendship with the Standard owner and fellow oligarchs.

And to show that this is a matter that transcends party politics, we are sure that the Labour Party will support the formal request that H&D is now making under the Freedom of Information Act for similar release of all relevant files concerning the Wilson government and its donors. One such file is catalogued as PREM 19/589/1 – due to be released to us at the National Archives in January this year but withheld, “closed while access is under review” for unexplained reasons.

A formal request for release of this and other documents will be submitted at the start of office hours tomorrow.

We shall of course inform H&D readers of any progress in this long overdue forensic examination of the British state’s decline into dishonour.

Blair’s unusual silence explained

Tony Blair with his patron Moshe Kantor, one of Vladimir Putin’s closest Jewish oligarch allies and main sponsor of the World Holocaust Forum

Many readers have wondered why Tony Blair has been remarkably quiet so far about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Look no further than Blair’s very close relationship with one of Putin’s favourite billionaire Jewish oligarchs, Moshe Kantor. Among many prominent positions in international Zionism, Kantor is President of the European Jewish Congress and Chairman of the Policy Council of the World Jewish Congress.

Since 2015 Blair has been chairman of Kantor’s ‘European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation’, which campaigns for ‘tougher laws against extremism’.

Vladimir Putin with his close ally Moshe Kantor

Naturally the extremism Blair and Kantor wish to criminalise involves such things as publishing a magazine or running a bookshop. For this type of extremism the likes of Blair and Kantor endorse the approach of Spanish prosecutors, who wish to jail Pedro Varela for twelve years, or German prosecutors who wish again to jail the 93-year-old Ursula Haverbeck.

Invading a neighbouring country is, by contrast, not ‘extreme’: not if the invader is Moshe Kantor’s close friend Vladimir Putin.

Roman Abramovich, another of Putin’s favourite oligarchs, ostracised in Britain but defended by Israel’s ‘Holocaust museum’ Yad Vashem, to which he has made large donations

Moshe Kantor also funded the World Holocaust Forum, which provided a platform for Putin to indulge his now familiar ‘anti-Nazi’ posturing.

Israel’s ‘Holocaust museum’ Yad Vashem has repeatedly accepted major donations from Putin’s favourite oligarchs, including not only Kantor but also Roman Abramovich who now faces ostracism in the UK for his close Kremlin ties but is still very welcome in Jerusalem.

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