Dan Walker shares image of Truss with Lubov Chernukhin
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As tensions between Russia and Ukraine increase, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss spoke to BBC Breakfast this morning about the Conservative Party’s planned sanctions against Vladimir Putin. The Tory MP was forced to swerve a direct question from BBC presenter Dan Walker when she was presented with a photo of herself and Theresa May attending a dinner party with Russian donor Lubov Chernukhin.
Lubov, the wife of Russia’s former minister of finance, donated around £2 million to the Conservative Party between 2012 and 2021.
During their interview on Wednesday morning, BBC broadcaster Walker probed Truss over the Tories’ connection to Russian finance, despite Boris Johnson’s planned sanctions.
Showing the photo on screens, he said: “Let me show you a picture from May of 2019, this was when Theresa May was Prime Minister. This was from your Instagram, I think the thing you posted with it was ‘Ladies night’.
“There you are with Theresa May, on the other side of [her] is Lubov Chernukhin, who’s the wife of a former Russian minister, who’s given the Conservative Party more than £1.8 million, that makes her the biggest female donor in recent British political history.
“Her wealth comes from her husband, Vladimir, who has strong links to the Kremlin. Now, in that picture, at the time, there were six female Cabinet members. Liz Truss, that shows us, doesn’t it, the closeness of the British government to Russian money?”
Truss avoided answering the question directly but maintained the government will still take action against Putin and his supporters.
“What I can say to you today is that we will target anybody who we believe has links to the Putin regime, who is helping support, prop up, the Putin government,” she replied.
“And nothing is off the table in terms of who we target.”
Continuing his interrogation, Walker demanded: “Are you embarrassed by seeing photographs like that?”
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A post shared by Liz Truss (@elizabeth.truss.mp)
To which Truss insisted: “No, I’m not. I attended the dinner at the time. I make my decisions as Foreign Secretary on the basis of what is right, and, as I’ve said, without prejudice, we will target anybody who is of interest in terms of the Russian regime.
“There are no other considerations as far as I’m concerned.”
Walker followed up by asking if the money should be given back, to which Truss answered: “As I’ve said, there is money donated to the Conservative Party. Everybody who donates is on the British electoral register. They are fully vetted before making those donations.
“I think it’s important that we don’t conflate people with Russian heritage and Russian background with people who are close to the Putin regime.”
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However, some viewers weren’t convinced by Truss’ side-stepping, with many taking to Twitter to congratulate Walker’s interview tactics.
Keith Muckett said: “Oooh @mrdanwalker talk about holding Liz Truss’ feet to the fire.”
Colin Gribble wrote: “Well done Dan Walker @BBCBreakfast for showing @PMTruss her Instagram photo with Russian Oligarchs wives. Truss had no reply apart from the ‘we will take action….’ line!”
“Good stuff @mrdanwalker,” Danithegirl added. “We need to see more of this challenging.”
@NotBowditch said: “Absolute car crash interview with Liz Truss on BBC news. Putin won’t be losing a wink of sleep about UK sanctions as he seems to have bought the Conservative party off.”
And Clodágh tweeted: “This was a brilliant move from Dan Walker. The gulp from her after the image was shown was hilarious.”
On the other hand, some viewers felt the photo of Truss and Chernukhin was a distraction from the real issue present on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
Eddie Café said: “The interview technique of @BBCBreakfast @mrdanwalker is so frustrating. When we have a potential war on our doorstep, they simply use an interview with @PMTruss as an opportunity to score points again. This is bigger than narrow party politics.”
And NorthumberlandNomad argued: “The world is teetering on WW3 and Dan Walker on BBC is more interested in embarrassing Liz Truss and the Conservatives about Russian donations and a photograph of her with THERESA MAY and a Russian donator’s wife.”
BBC Breakfast airs weekdays from 6am on BBC One.
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