Newly appointed UK Culture Minister John Whittingdale linked with Ukrainian "associate of Russian organised crime" Dmytro Firtash

Following UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's cabinet re-shuffle, John Whittingdale, a Member of Parliament since 1992, has been appointed as Minister of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Whittingdale is known for, amongst other unsavoury associations, his dealings with pro-Kremlin Ukrainian businessman, Dmytro Firtash.

In November 2019 it was reported that John Sweeney, a BBC investigative reporter, claimed that a BBC Newsnight investigation into connections between Whittingdale and Firtash, the pro-Kremlin oligarch, had been "shelved".

Firtash

As a backbench MP Whittingdale had allegedly made five trips to Ukraine, funded by the British Ukrainian Society, which was set up by Firtash. At one point Whittingdale was himself a director of the society, a position he resigned from in November 2014. However, Whittingdale's register of interests showed that he continued to receive travel and accommodation from the society certainly into March 2015 when he attended a conference in Vienna, where Firtash, who was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in April 2014, was based, and from where he continues to fight extradition to face bribery charges in solving some $18.5 million.

Firtash employed former Chair of Donald Trump's Presidential campaign team Paul Manafort, currently serving a prison sentence for federal financial crimes, as a “business consultant” in Ukraine.

U.S. federal prosecutors described Firtash in 2017 court papers as an associate of Russian organised crime. He was also highly influential during the administration of the Viktor Yanukovych, which ended when the despotic and corrupt leader ignominiously fled Ukraine to sanctuary in Russia in February 2014.

In Ukraine, where Firtash holds extensive interests in the country's energy sector, he was accused by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of laundering gas money to pay Yanukovych's supporters.

In 2016 Whittingdale’s former lover Stephanie Hudson, a topless model, said that the MP had discussed Firtash with her.

Whittingdale's half-brother is Charles Napier, former treasurer of the defunct Paedophile Information Exchange, who in November 2014 was convicted of sexual sexual abuse offences against young boys.

Images:

Whittingdale - OSCE

Firtash - V.Diegtiar,- Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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