Mark Hollingsworth

Mark Hollingsworth is the author of ‘Londongrad – From Russia with Cash’. His new book, ‘Agents of Influence – How the KGB Subverted Western Democracies’, will be published by Oneworld this April.

The vast corruption of Ukraine’s sanctions regime

Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, a former US government official visited Kiev to inquire how he could help to supply humanitarian aid to the people on the front line. He had formed a non-profit agency, raised $2 million and provided over 70 ambulances to help Ukrainian soldiers and citizens. But during his visit he was

Russia is still very much a security threat inside the UK

At 1.30 p.m. on 7 September 1978, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident and BBC journalist, approached a bus stop at the south end of Waterloo bridge. As he gazed absent-mindedly across the Thames, office workers jostled him as they streamed past. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain on the back of his right thigh. Turning quickly,

The Caribbean island that wants to claim a Russian super yacht

Earlier this year I asked Gretta Fenner, head of a Swiss Foundation that investigates oligarchs and financial crime, about confiscating the assets of wealthy sanctioned Russians and using the proceeds to support the Ukrainian military and rebuild the country. I was surprised by her response. ‘Confiscating assets without proof they are the proceeds of crime

The real origins of Putin’s war

In 1992, Richard Nixon assessed the future of Russia in a remarkably prophetic interview. ‘Russia is at a crossroads’, said the former US President: It is often said the cold war is over and the West has won. But that is only half of the truth. Communism has been defeated but the ideas of freedom

Putin and the power of the Orthodox church

In April this year, a sombre looking Vladimir Putin attended a midnight Orthodox Easter Service in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. Holding a lit red candle, the Russian President crossed himself several times during the ceremony, known as the Divine Liturgy. When Father Kirill declared ‘Christ has risen’, Putin duly responded with the congregation: ‘Truly

Russian sanctions are hurting Putin’s enemies

‘Ukrainians fight for their homeland, Russians fight for Putin’s ambitions’, declared the TV presenter on his YouTube channel earlier this year. This was not a Ukrainian propagandist. In fact, the commentator was Russian and talking on ‘TV Rain’, the most popular and effective opposition channel broadcasting into Russia.  In TV Rain’s final programme from Moscow

Like Putin’s Russia, Bulgaria has become a mafia state

In a historic speech to the US Congress on 12 March 1947, President Truman addressed the menacing spread of Communism and the Soviet take-over of Eastern Europe. Known as the ‘Truman Doctrine’, he portrayed the battle lines for the Cold War as a struggle between autocracy and democracy – something which resonates uncannily today in

What Putin could learn from Stalin

On 29 August 1942, as German tanks reached the Volga river near Stalingrad, Josef Stalin consulted his most senior General, Georgy Zhukov about his strategy. Despite his impoverished background, Zhukov was intelligent, demanding and strong-willed. The general persuaded Stalin to delay counter-attacking the Nazis for a week to allow time for supplies and artillery to

Is this the man who will one day take over from Putin?

Boris Ratnikov, a former KGB officer and retired chief advisor to Russia’s security service, gave a remarkable interview back in 2016. Ratnikov, who died in 2020, claimed his boss had penetrated and read the mind of Madeleine Albright while she was US Secretary of State in the mid-1990s. Ratnikov said his superior officer used a photograph

Our Russian sanctions are only helping Vladimir Putin

‘I don’t see a single beneficiary of this crazy war’, wrote the self-made Russian billionaire Oleg Tinkov on his Instagram page on 19 April 2022, less than two months after Russia invaded Ukraine. ‘Innocent people and soldiers are dying every day. This is unacceptable’. His 634,000 followers were stunned to read his anti-war declaration: ‘The

How oligarchs use Brussels to launder their reputations

When the police raided the home of the former socialist MEP and lawyer Pier Antonio Panzeri and found €500,000 in cash as part of the most serious corruption case in the European Parliament in decades, nobody noticed one of his clients was an oligarch who is the subject of the biggest civil fraud case in British legal

How Russia’s oligarchs are evading sanctions

On 25 February 2022, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine, a select group of oligarchs attended a private meeting with President Putin in the Kremlin’s St. Catherine’s Hall. It was ostensibly to discuss how the government would assist state-owned Russian banks who were about to be sanctioned by the USA, notably Sberbank and VTB Group.