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Ukraine crisis puts Britain's Cameron on spot over Russian donations

Published on Jul 24, 2014 2:38 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron came under pressure over the Ukraine crisis on Wednesday after he was forced to defend a party political donation from the wife of a former minister in Russian President Vladimir Putin's government.

Lyubov Chernukhina, the wife of Vladimir Chernukhin, a former deputy finance minister in Putin's government, agreed to pay 160,000 pounds (US$272,500) to Mr Cameron's Conservative Party at a fund-raising gala this month in exchange for a game of tennis with Mr Cameron and Mr Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.

But that and other donations to Cameron's party to fund its campaign for re-election in 2015 have come under scrutiny after the British leader called for sanctions on Mr Putin's "cronies and oligarchs" following the downing of a Malaysian plane in eastern Ukraine last week.

The opposition Labour Party has questioned Mr Cameron's credibility to talk tough on the issue at the same time as his party is taking donations from people with links to the Russian government, which it said were worth 910,000 pounds. And abroad, French politicians have accused Mr Cameron of hypocrisy for criticising France's sale of two Mistral warships to Russia, while doing nothing that would affect Russian interests in Britain, home to many wealthy Russians.

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