Boris Johnson's fury at decision to let Putin's spin doctor waltz into Parliament to launch blistering attack on Britain from inside the Commons
· Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin mouthpiece is a guest of honour at a reception at the Commons Terrace Pavilion tomorrow
· Boris Johnson is furious that Maria Zakharova will be in attendance
· She has called him 'shameful' and will be able to attack Britain inside Parliament
· Event has been organised by Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski who has been accused of 'gushing' towards the Russians
By Simon Walters for The Mail on Sunday
PUBLISHED: 22:22 GMT, 28 January 2017 | UPDATED: 23:52 GMT, 28 January 2017
Commons invitation: Kremlin mouthpiece Maria Zakharova wins fans in Russia performing a folk dance
Boris Johnson is furious at a decision to let RussianPresident Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin mouthpiece launch a blistering attack on Britain from inside the Commons tomorrow.
Russianspin doctor and Putin confidante Maria Zakharova, who has called the Foreign Secretary ‘shameful’, is guest of honour at a glittering reception at the Commons Terrace Pavilion overlooking the Thames.
Embarrassingly for the Government, the event has been organised by Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski, who has been accused in the past of being ‘gushing’ towards the Russians. Last night, there were calls by MPs for Mr Kawczynski to be stripped of his membership of the all-party Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
One said: ‘Putin will be laughing out loud that we are feting his nasty sidekick in the heart of our own Parliament. Kawczynski is a reckless fool.’
The editor in chief of the hardline pro-PutinTV STATION Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, will also be present.
Former Foreign Office Minister Sir Hugo Swire said: ‘Meeting these people is neither timely nor appropriate, let alone helpful. We don’t need Putin’s propaganda machine given a veneer of credibility by effectively giving him a platform in the British Parliament.’
Some Tories claim the meeting undermines Theresa May’s warning to Donald Trump at their White House summit not to get too close to Putin, in which she urged him to ‘engage but beware’.
Mr Kawczynski’s email invitation to MPs, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, is headed ‘Terrace Pavilion event on Soft Power’. It reads: ‘It is my pleasure to invite you to a panel discussion session I am co-hosting with Russia Today. I hope you can join us for what I know will be a stimulating and valuable discussion.’
Maria Zakharova has called Boris Johnson ‘shameful’, and called Barack Obama a ‘shallow-brained loser’
Polish-born Mr Kawczynski argued last year: ‘Putin is not going to go away soon.’ He also said that Putin’s Russia was ‘not our ideological nemesis, to be defeated like the Soviet Union’. The MP’s invite gives star billing to Putin’s outspoken propagandist with her full Kremlin title, ‘Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.’
Striking blonde Ms Zakharova, 41, has powerful backing from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. She became a celebrity in Russia last year after performing a Russian folk dance at political conference in Sochi.
She has made a series of highly provocative statements in recent years, often attacking Britain. In recent months, she has appeared to go out of her way to goad Johnson.
Boris Johnson is said to be furious about the decision to have the Kremlin mouthpiece as guest of honour at the event organised by Daniel Kawczynski
In October, Ms Zakharova targeted Johnson after the British Foreign Secretary said Russia risked becoming a ‘pariah state’. She said she was ‘ashamed for him’.
In January last year, she rejected a ‘politically motivated’ British inquiry that concluded that Putin knew about the plot to murder former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
She also turned her fire on Prince Charles after he compared Russia’s intervention in Ukraine to Hitler’s foreign policy, saying the Prince and his son Harry had ‘special relations with Nazis’.
She has also called Barack Obama a ‘shallow-brained loser’.
She has proved her total loyalty to Putin time and again. When Lavrov was caught by a rogue microphone calling Saudi diplomats ‘f****** imbeciles’, she shrugged it off, claiming: ‘He coughed.’
In 2008, she helped stop George Clooney addressing the United Nations on the Sudan humanitarian crisis because of fears that it conflicted with Russian foreign policy.
She also claimed Trump won the US election thanks to Jewish votes.
Mr Kawczynski was unavailable for comment last night.
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