Prince Michael under pressure to step down from charity run by French billionaire who attended high-level Kremlin meetings and acted as an advisor in Russia’s nuclear industry
- Brazzaville Foundation run by man who has held meetings with Putin’s ministers
- Now Prince Michael of Kent is under pressure to step down from the charity
Prince Michael of Kent is under pressure to step down from a charity run by a French billionaire who attends high-level meetings at the Kremlin and has advised on deals with Russia’s state-run nuclear industry.
The 81-year-old cousin to the late Queen is the Royal Patron of the Brazzaville Foundation, a charity run by businessman Jean-Yves Ollivier, who has held meetings with Vladimir Putin’s ministers in the past two years.
Two months ago he met with Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow, which the Russian government described as ‘discussions about the global geo-political agenda’.
Mr Ollivier said the Moscow meeting was to plan for an African peace delegation to Moscow and Kyiv last month.
In the past he has advised on deals involving Rosatom, the Kremlin’s nuclear agency, which the US Congress recently accused of being complicit in ‘murder and crimes against humanity’ in Ukraine.
The 81-year-old cousin to the late Queen is the Royal Patron of the Brazzaville Foundation
Jean-Yves Ollivier has held meetings with Vladimir Putin’s ministers in the past two years
Rosatom executives were sanctioned by the British Government in February after the Foreign Office said the firm was helping to support Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Last night, a spokesman for Mr Ollivier confirmed he had worked as an adviser for Rosatom but has had no contact with the company for the past ‘four or five years’.
Mr Ollivier has been friends with Prince Michael for years. The Prince was instrumental in setting up Brazzaville Foundation in 2015 and according to the charity the two men regularly meet at Kensington Palace.
There is no suggestion the Prince has played any part in Ollivier’s meetings at the Kremlin.
Last night, Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged the Prince to sever ties with the charity, adding: ‘The Government should be advising Prince Michael of Kent that he should seriously consider stepping back.’ The former Tory leader, who recently returned from Ukraine, also called for Mr Ollivier to be sanctioned.
Labour MP Kevan Jones also urged Prince Michael to quit the charity, adding: ‘The Intelligence and Security Committee Russia Report 2020 explained how individuals aim to wash their reputations by association with UK public figures. Any member of the Royal Family should be conscious of this.’
Col Philip Ingram, a former military intelligence officer, said: ‘Prince Michael and the Royal Family should have their wider interests reviewed so as not to bring further embarrassment to the family and the UK.’
Last month, it emerged the Prince’s office had lobbied the Foreign Office in 2018 to fast-track a visa for a Russian financier who had links with an oligarch. The Prince declined to comment.
The Prince stepped down as patron of a Russo-British Chamber of Commerce last year and was forced to hand back an Order of Friendship award, one of Russia’s highest honours, after reporters were told he could be hired for £10,000 a day to make representations to Putin’s regime.
His friend, the Marquess of Reading, described the Prince as ‘Her Majesty’s unofficial ambassador to Russia’.
Brazzaville’s website also lists a South African arms dealer, Ivor Ichikowitz, as a ‘friend’ of the charity. Both Ichikowitz and Ollivier are friends with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a Putin ally who has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Neither Ollivier nor Ichikowitz have been sanctioned by any governments.
A spokesman for the Brazzaville Foundation said: ‘Mr Ollivier has no connection or contact any more with Rosatom or its civilian activities for the last five years.’
A spokesman for Prince Michael did not respond to requests to comment.
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