The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Boris in Kyiv, Rishi in hot water and crystal meth in a cereal packet

Portrait of the week: Boris in Kyiv, Rishi in hot water and crystal meth in a cereal packet
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Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, travelled to Kyiv in secret and joined President Volodymyr Zelensky for the cameras in his office and in empty streets. He was given a pottery cock by local people. He said: ‘We are stepping up our own military and economic support.’ Mr Zelensky said: ‘It is time to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy resources.’ Britain would send 120 armoured vehicles, Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, 800 anti-tank missiles and anti-ship missile systems. Supporters of Extinction Rebellion sat down in the road at Oxford Circus in London. The tyres of 100 SUVs were let down in Edinburgh by campaigners who left notes saying ‘Your gas-guzzler kills’.

A vigorous game of hunt-the-issue developed after reports that Akshata Murthy, the wife of Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, held non-domicile status, meaning that she would pay tax in Britain on income enjoyed there, but foreign income would be subject to foreign rules. It was universally acknowledged that she had done nothing wrong. Then she announced that, while retaining non-dom status, she would pay tax on overseas income, such as the £11.6 million in dividends last year from the company her father founded. It was asked who published her private tax affairs; 10 Downing Street was suspected, by way of a plot to scupper Mr Sunak’s chance of becoming the next prime minister. Mr Sunak, ‘confident’ that he had declared all his interests, referred himself to Lord Geidt, the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ministerial interests. The economy grew by 0.1 per cent in February; unemployment shrank a touch to 3.8 per cent.

In the seven days up to 11 April, 1,613 people had died with coronavirus, bringing total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 170,107. In the previous week 1,118 had died. Numbers in hospital with Covid in the UK remained at about 20,000. Ali Harbi Ali, an admirer of Islamic State, was found guilty of murdering Sir David Amess MP in October by stabbing him 20 times. Imran Ahmad Khan, the MP for Wakefield, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008; the MP had been suspended from the Conservative party. At breakfast, Haisam Nassir, 25, a mother of four from Dagenham, found a pound bag of crystal meth in a packet of Golden Morn cereal.


A Russian rocket hit Kramatorsk station, where hundreds were awaiting evacuation, killing at least 57. Since Russia withdrew from the area near Kyiv, 1,222 bodies had been found there, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor. At Yahidne near Chernihiv, 130 people had been held by Russian soldiers in an unheated basement from 5 March to 2 April; 12 had died. More than 100 square miles needed clearing of mines. French experts arrived in Ukraine to help investigate alleged war crimes by Russian troops. Russia was suspended from the UN Human Rights Council by a vote in the general assembly.

General Alexander Dvornikov, 60, who had led Russian operations in Syria, was appointed to oversee the war in Ukraine. Russia turned its attention to the east and south. An eight-mile convoy of armoured vehicles, lorries with towed artillery and other military vehicles was seen by satellite east of Kharkiv. Oryx, an intelligence blog, said that on the basis of photographs, Russia had so far lost more than 460 tanks and 2,000 other armoured vehicles. Karl Nehammer, the Chancellor of Austria, visited President Zelensky in Kyiv, then met President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Die Welt employed Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian journalist who had held up a placard saying ‘No war’ during the television news. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the overtly racist and nationalist Liberal Democratic party of Russia, died aged 75.

The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 6,202,948 by the beginning of the week. In Shanghai, where people were confined to their homes, some complained of food shortages. In the French presidential elections, Emmanuel Macron received 27.9 per cent of the first round vote and Marine Le Pen 23.2; they go through to a knockout bout on 24 April. Imran Khan, 69, was ousted as prime minister of Pakistan by a vote of no confidence in parliament after the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional his attempt to dissolve parliament to prevent the vote. He was succeeded by Shehbaz Sharif, 70, a younger brother of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. In Nablus, Palestinians smashed the stone lid of Joseph’s tomb. CSH