RUTH Davidson appears to have backed out of a dinner with a wealthy Russian businesswoman who won her at auction, The National can reveal.

Lubov Chernukhin, who is one of the biggest political donors in recent British history spending more than £1.9 million on the Tory party, is the wife of a former minister in Vladimir Putin’s government.

The National:

She donated £20,000 for a dinner with the former Scottish Tory leader (above) at the party’s Black and White Ball in 2018.

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But the dinner never went ahead, the Scottish Tory party have said.

They insist there are no plans for the two to ever dine together.

A Scottish Tory source told The National: “To the best of Ruth’s knowledge she has never met this individual.”

The National:

Donating nearly £1.9 million to the party between 2012 and 2021, it is thought Chernukhin is one of the biggest female political donors ever in the UK.

She is a regular big spender at Tory benefit events, winning a tennis game with Boris Johnson for £45,000, paying £30,000 for a private meal with then Education Secretary Gavin Williamson in the Churchill War Rooms off Westminster and splashing out £135,000 for a night out with Theresa May.

All her donations are legal because Chernukhin has lived in the UK since 2003 and is a British citizen, the Tories have said when reports have questioned the amount of cash she has spent supporting the party.

Accounts filed at the end of 2021, showed her firm reported debts of more than £8m – which is around the same as their last filings in 2019.

Her husband Vladimir Chernukhin is a former Russian state banker, who worked with the USSR’s Ministry of Foreign Trade (and later the Russian government’s department) from 1986 until 1996.

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He married Lubov in 2007, after he moved to the UK in 2004 – reportedly in the aftermath of a fall out with Putin, when he was removed from his role as chairman of the of Vnesheconombank, a Russian state development corporation.

It is not known if the money donated for the dinner with Davidson was returned, because the date never went ahead.

The National:

It comes after the Prime Minister was urged on Wednesday to bring forward more sanctions against Russia in light of the invasion of Ukraine.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford (above) accused Boris Johnson of being unwilling to tackle the issue of “dirty Russian money” being laundered in the UK because the Tory party benefits from donations from wealthy Russians.

Since Johnson became Prime Minister, the Tories have accepted more than £2m from donors linked to Russia. 

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There is no suggestion Chernukhin is involved in money laundering.

Davidson resigned as leader of the Scottish Conservatives in 2021 after leading the party to their best ever election results in the Scottish Parliament.

The Conservative Party was approached for comment.