Friday 31 July 2020 10:37 am

Exclusive: Top Tory MP says Russia 'taken hostage by mafia gang'

Tom Tugendhat MP, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, has said the Russian state has been “taken hostage by a mafia gang”.

The country is a “shell of its former self”, the MP for Tonbrige and Malling told City A.M’s The City View podcast.

Read more: The City View: Tom Tugendhat MP on China, Russia and foreign affairs

His comments came after a top UK security committee released a report revealing that Moscow’s attempts to influence British politics had become the “new normal”. 

The findings of the Russia report did not come as a surprise, Tugendhat said. 

“At the moment, the entire country has been taken hostage effectively by a small clique of mafia dons who have quite literally raped it blind, leaving Putin as one of the richest men in the world,” he said.

“That money is not just taken from the schools and hospitals and roads that should have been developed and should have seen people prosper, but it’s also been stolen from the security forces and espionage services. It’s really left what was once a great country a broken shell of its former self.”

He added: “We need to have a strong partner in eastern Europe we need to have a strong Russia that is based on the rule of law, that is able to defend its interests and defend its people and not one that is simply only interested in using its people as serfs, which is effectively what this regime is doing.” 

The Tory MP also criticised China’s ambassador to the UK, calling him a “bully” after the official accused Britain of getting too involved in China’s internal affairs. 

Tugendhat said China’s aggressive behaviour was “hugely damaging, not just to the UK but to everyone”. 

Read more: Russia report: What were the key findings?

“This is not the correct attitude for someone who is supposed to be building relations… I know this guy came from North Korea as his last posting, and so maybe he’s forgotten that actually we’re not another Communist dictatorship,” he said.

“But it certainly does feel as though we’re just here to be bullied by him, and I’m afraid we’re not.”